Diplomats from the Sadc region have promised to mobilise food aid to over four million Zimbabweans faced with hunger saying such a desperate situation requires a multi-faceted response.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ambassador to Zimbabwe Mwampanga Mwana-Nanga, who is also the dean of African diplomats in Zimbabwe, revealed this after a two-day field tour of Matabeleland North province to appraise humanitarian and development projects as well as raising awareness on the seriousness of the El Nino-induced drought.
The delegation observed first-hand the humanitarian situation in Bubi, Lupane and Binga, districts where people have been hardest hit by the ravaging drought that has killed crops and livestock.
“As the diplomatic corps, we are here in response to the call by the President (Robert Mugabe) declaring this year a disaster because of drought.
“In the past, we as African ambassadors, have worked on a very small-scale trying to help here and there but this year the fact that it has been declared a national disaster, we decided to do something a little bit out of our way,” he said.
Despite the fact that the drought caused by the El Nino phenomenon has also affected other African countries in equal measure Mwana-Nanga said they felt it was prudent to give priority to Zimbabwe.
He described the delegates’ tour of the province as an eye opener as it essentially presented them with the real picture on the ground.
“It was an eye-opening experience for us because when you sit in Harare and you are having your beer at Meikles Hotel, whatever you think the world is and how good it is, climate change is a reality. Those who are affected are real people, we spoke to some of them and you could see the efforts that they are making to help themselves,” Mwana-Nanga said.
Having observed the situation, Mwana-Nanga said upon the delegation’s return to Harare, they will call for an emergency meeting to try and address the issue.
“We are going to Harare and call an emergency meeting of the Africa group of ambassadors and the rest of the diplomats to see what is it that we can do to support these communities,” he said.
The ambassador further noted that what is noble about the interventions was that the villagers are also making their own frantic efforts to help themselves.
“The truth of the matter is that they are not sitting there waiting for help, but they are working and they need our help.
“At the meeting in Harare, we are going to choose some schemes that we can fund. We focus on schemes that give people capacity.
“We want something good to come out of this very bad situation and we support programmes that can build resilience and help these people to cope with situations like these.”
Above all, Mwana-Nanga said they were focusing on projects that can sustain the villagers on permanent basis.
To date, the UN agencies with support from development partners and NGOs have reached to more than 1 million affected people and generated $76 million in funding from partners.
UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative Bishow Parajuli led the entourage which comprised World Food Programme representative Eddie Rowe, officials from the President’s Office, ambassadors of Angola, Botswana and Namibia, led by Mwana-Nanga.
Sadc meets to help starving Zimbabweans
Author: Jeffrey Muvundusi