BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Somali Swahili French Great Lakes Hausa Portugeuse
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Africa  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Zambia declares food disaster
Crops destroyed by drought
Southern Africa is facing its worst food shortage
Zambia has declared the country's food shortage a national disaster, saying four million people face starvation.


I make a passionate appeal to the international community to assist us in this time of need.

Levy Mwanawasa

President Levy Mwanawasa said that current crop production would only feed six million people out of a total population of more than 10 million.

He said that Zambia would run out of food by July or August.

Zambia's move comes a day after the United Nations warned that at least 10 million people face starvation in four southern African countries unless the international community acts swiftly.

Food handouts

"I make a passionate appeal to the international community to assist us in this time of need," Mr Mwanawasa said.

He said crop assessments showed the country would have a maize shortage of 630,000 tonnes. Maize is the staple diet in southern Africa.

"Given this scenario and concern for the survival of our people, my government has decided to declare a national disaster with regard to food insecurity in the nation and water shortage in the Southern province," Mr Mwanawasa said in a statement.

Millions of Zambians would have to depend on foreign food handouts and imports, he warned.

President Levy Mwanawasa
The new head of state faces a tough challenge

"Water points like streams, wells and dams are drying up or have already dried up.

"This will result in poor sanitation and increased health risks for our people," he said.

Floods and drought during the 2000/2001 season reduced Zambia's maize production to 490,000 tonnes from 700,000.

Drought in the 2001/2002 season compounded the problem.

Aid operation

Southern Africa is facing its worst food shortage in a decade due to a mixture of drought, floods and economic instability.

A UN report on Wednesday said there were several reasons for the current crisis, including drought, economic policies and, in Zimbabwe, the disruption of farming due to the government's controversial land reform programme.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have called on international donors to provide supplies, estimating that southern Africa will have to import almost 4 million tonnes of food over the next year if it is to meet the needs of its population.

The WFP had estimated that the cost of such an international aid operation would be around $400 million.

"We have to get the message out to donors - a famine can be averted if they act quickly," Judith Lewis, WFP's regional director for southern and eastern Africa, told Reuters.

"Much needs to be done, and we need to do it now."

The crisis has been made worse by the high rate of HIV and Aids in the region, which has weakened the local population's resistance to disease and left them more susceptible to famine.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Judith Lewis of the World Food Programme
"We saw increased malnutrition"

Key stories

Horn of Africa

Southern Africa

West Africa

Ways to help

CLICKABLE MAP

IN DEPTH

TALKING POINT
See also:

06 Mar 02 | Africa
19 Feb 02 | Africa
07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes