African MarketsEconomyGeneral News

IMF to Evaluate Drought’s Effect on Zambia’s Economy

Listen to this Article Now
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
Spread the love

The International Monetary Fund announced on Thursday its plan to visit Zambia, tentatively scheduled for mid-April, to evaluate the adverse effects of the ongoing drought on the country’s economic growth and budget.

Zambia is grappling with drought conditions in 84 out of its 116 districts, with the rainy season, typically spanning from October to March, ending in late January.

Julie Kozak, the IMF’s director of communications, stated in a media briefing, “The initial assessment suggests significant crop losses, necessitating an increase in energy imports.”

Last week, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema declared the drought a national disaster and emergency, citing its devastating impact on food production and electricity supply. The nation heavily relies on hydropower, which constitutes at least 80 percent of its electricity generation.

The current maize harvest, a crucial staple crop dependent on consistent rainfall, failed to mature, leaving many small-scale farmers without a harvest.

Edner Soko, a subsistence farmer, lamented, “I planted eight hectares of maize and two to three hectares of groundnuts. However, due to the lack of rain, both crops perished.”

Jacob Soko, another farmer, welcomed the president’s declaration of a national disaster, acknowledging the dire situation. “There is no food, especially in the southern, eastern, and western regions. We are completely deprived. We hear that at least the northern part of Zambia has some rainfall,” he remarked.

Farmers are worried about their ability to generate sufficient income to meet their basic needs, as nearly 70 percent of Zambians rely on food produced by small-scale farmers.

Yotam Mkandawire, the executive secretary for the Grain Traders Association of Zambia, assured that the country currently maintains food security. However, he expressed concerns about future harvests and urged proactive measures to address the current crisis.

Oxfam, an aid organization, cautioned that six million people in Zambia face acute food shortages until the next growing season. President Hichilema pledged to redistribute food from surplus areas to districts in need and appealed for international assistance.