European Union Unveils $4,5 Million for Tackling Severe Drought in Zimbabwe

Irwin Chifera

HARARE— The European Union is set to give Zimbabwe an additional $4.5 million with a view of raising more funds to ease a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon and a crumbling economy.

EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Phillepe Van Demme, told journalists in Harare on Thursday that the regional body confirmed the funding Wednesday.

“We will obligate another $4.5 million for Zimbabwe for close monitoring of the challenges and quantification … through the quick assessment being organized by ZIMVAC that will have more precise figures which will allow not only the EU but member states of the EU and other international partners to go back to their capitals and find out whether additional support can be mobilized.”

The funding is in addition to the 12 million dollars, which the EU has given to Zimbabwe and six other southern African countries to save lives of people facing hunger.

Van Demme said there was stiff competition for emergency funds and urged the Zimbabwean government to declare drought an emergency in order to enhance its chances of getting more funding amid competition from other needs.

“That’s why we think it may be important to declare a state of humanitarian emergency because that is a signal to the international community that indeed we have difficulties coping with this crisis.”

Asked whether Zimbabwe’s huge foreign debt would not hinder Zimbabwe’s chances for more emergency funding, Van Demme said humanitarian funding was never linked to any considerations. “Humanitarian aid is always disconnected from any other considerations.”

The announcement by the EU follows reports that the United State Agency for International Development will give an additional $5 million to Zimbabwe to ensure food security in the country.

USAID and its partners such as the United Nations World Food Program are this year spending more than $30 million on drought mitigation measures in Zimbabwe.

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made could not be reached for comment. The Zimbabwean government is spending more than $200 million on maize imports.

An estimated 1,5 million people are in need of food aid but traditional leaders say the figure could increase as more people are running out of food.

Report on EU Aid Filed By Irwin Chifera