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Children go hungry as devastating draught hits Zambia

Seven out of 10 provinces in Zambia have been impacted by the intense drought. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Zambia falls prey to the worst draught it has seen in around 20 years, as widespread food shortages force children to survive on waterlily roots and wild fruits

As the El Niño passes through the region, leaving dry spells in its wake, a total of 10 provinces in Zambia have been impacted by intense draught, thereby urging the government to declare the situation a natioanl emergency. Zambia has gone nine consecutive weeks without a drop of rain, destroying nearly half of the nation's planted area.

Among those who have been hit the hardest include farming families that particularly rely on rain-fed agriculture to support the production of maize, the country’s principal food crop. Losses incurred by these families amount to around one million hectares from 2.2 million planted crops. 

Overall, the food crisis in Zambia is being exacerbated by a combination of factors including humanitarian funding, double digit inflation rate, and skyrocketing food and commodity prices. Global charity organisation, Save the Children is acknowleding the country's struggle by calling for child-sensitive government interventions such as introducing and scaling emergency school feeding programmes, to ensure that a nutritionally balanced meal to vulnerable children across all drought-affected communities. 

By collaborating with the government of Zambia, the organisation is attempting to assess the extent of the drought and are further supporting the Disaster Mitigation and Management Unit in the distribution of relief maize in some of the affected areas. Moreover, they will also be providing meals to school-going children in the worst affected areas. 

“Many hard-hit families are being forced to take desperate measures to cope with the crisis, such as reducing their daily meal intake, selling off livestock and foraging for hours each day for wild fruits, roots and nuts," said Save the Children country director in Zambia, Jo Musonda. “We are calling for urgent national and international action and funding to provide families and children with basic services including food and water.”

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