Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has declared a state of disaster in rural parts of the country hit by a drought. The country has been experiencing abnormally low rainfall since last year, with an estimated 2.5 million people in need of food aid.
The decision comes days after the EU urged him to declare a state of disaster so donors can raise money quickly to provide food aid. The government says it is importing maize from neighbouring Zambia. Thousands of cattle have died as their grazing areas are parched. “With rains failing almost completely this year, the situation is getting desperate,” Jan Vossen, Zimbabwe director for the charity Oxfam, told the BBC.
“In certain parts of the country, we even see that people, farmers, are using the thatch of their roofs to feed their cattle,” he said. The agricultural sector has been the worst affected, with tobacco and cotton farmers also bracing themselves for disaster, the BBC’s Nomsa Maseko reports from Johannesburg.