By Nation Reporter
GOVERNMENT has permitted the World Food Programme (WFP) to export 48,000 metric tonnes of maize to Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique for distribution through their humanitarian operations to render support to hunger stricken populations.
Speaking during the flag-off ceremony of the relief consignment in Lusaka yesterday, Disaster Management Mitigation Unit (DMMU) national coordinator Patrick Kangwa disclosed that an estimated 40 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance in Southern Africa due to the severe El Nino induced drought and prolonged dry spells affecting the region.
He noted that the drought was the worst of its kind in 35 years and that 23 million of the 40 million people in the region required immediate humanitarian assistance.
Mr Kangwa said that the aid was as a result of a formal appeal for US$2.4 billion by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to support the humanitarian needs of the affected countries.
Mr Kangwa explained that Zambia was part of the global humanitarian community and that it was mandated to render support to its neighbours in times of need.
He emphasized that Government could not fold its arms in the event of its sister nations being hit by disaster.
Mr Kangwa also assured the nation that Government had put in place adequate monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the country had enough food stocks for local consumption.
“The humanitarian relief export consignment to sister countries is due to severe El Nino induced drought and prolonged dry spells affecting the region. An estimated 40 million people are in need of assistance, with 23 million requiring immediate humanitarian assistance, he said.
And WFP country director Simon Cammelbeeck commended Government for its stewardship of the agricultural sector, adding that Zambian farmers worked hard.
Mr Cammelbeeck described Zambia as a grain basket of Southern Africa and that it was the only country in the region with a maize surplus.
He thanked Government for allowing them to export maize despite the ban imposed on the export of maize.
Mr Cammelbeeck disclosed that funding for the consignment had come from 12 countries with the largest portion coming from the government of Malawi with financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).