UN appeals for humanitarian assistance for Zambia to address drought crisis


Beneficiaries of the food supplement program run by the Women's Federation for World Peace in Zambia hold received rations at a health facility in Lusaka, Zambia, on July 23, 2021. [Xinhua]

The United Nations (UN) on Friday appealed for urgent humanitarian assistance for Zambians affected by the drought.

An assessment conducted by the United Nations after touring affected areas has revealed that "the amount of crop failure is very devastating and leaves many people in need of food aid. Zambia is facing unprecedented drought," UN Assistant Secretary-General Reena Ghelani said.

Ghelani, who is also UN climate crisis coordinator for the El Nino/La Nina response, told journalists at a press briefing that the international community needs to respond quickly to avoid further damages.

While commending the government for responding urgently to the crisis by releasing food from the strategic reverses, she noted that there is need for external help to fill the gap.

Etleva Kadilli, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) regional director for eastern and southern Africa, expressed concern that the drought may have a huge impact on children in the country.

She said the situation is likely to result in increased malnutrition levels among children, a situation that may cause stunted growth.

In February this year, the government declared a national state of disaster and emergency to enable a rapid response to the prolonged drought which has affected 84 of the country's 116 districts.

The Zambian government has reported that about six million people are at risk of food insecurity. About 40,000 people facing emergency levels of food insecurity, the UN said.