The Herald, 3 April 1993
Government spent over Z$226 million on the drought relief programme between July last year and February this year, Vice President Cde Simon Muzenda said in Kadoma yesterday.
Cde Muzenda told delegates to a two-day drought relief review meeting in Kadoma that of the two million tonnes of food imported, over 800 000 tonnes were distributed through the drought relief programme.
About 5 million Zimbabweans, almost half of the population were receiving assistance at the height of the programme.
“The drought of 1991/92 was a catastrophic event that threatened the country’s population and economy,” said Cde Muzenda.
The National Civil Protection Co-ordination Committee had proposed a framework for a drought recovery programme which was being prepared.
The need for a recovery programme based on the recent drought experience was imperative and deserved the most urgent attention by the Government.
“This is a sequential exercise which will buttress the drought relief activities which have been overriding pre-occupation. The situation demands that relief operations should gradually give way to developmental programmes designed in the light of the drought experience, taking into account resource constraints as well as the changed social and economic realities,” he said.
It is against this background that Government launched the agricultural drought recovery programme which saw the District Development Fund tractors tilling 46 000 hectares of land throughout the whole country.
“You the technocrats must now help us, the policy makers, to formulate our drought preparedness strategy,” he said.
The meeting organised by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare is being attended by Government ministries and non-governmental organisations.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
The agricultural sector is usually the first one to be affected by droughts, given its dependence on soil and water, which can be rapidly depleted during extended dry periods, hence the need to also put up measures that ensure productivity even during dry spells.
The importance of a grain reserve stock in case of moderate to severe drought is very important for drought response preparation and all farmers should be encouraged to send surplus produce to the Grain Marketing Board after every successful farming season.
There is also need for strengthening of the capabilities for drought preparedness and management, including contingency plans at local and national level.
As the population increases, it will be difficult in future for Government to source drought relief food for the entire nation in the event of drought, hence the need to invest in disaster preparedness through strengthening the Agricultural Sector’s productivity.