PM promises Zambezi farmers drought help

Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila

Prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has assured the Zambezi traditional leaders that the government is aware of the drought affecting farmers in the region and will assist them.

She then told traditional authorities to assist the teams that were deployed in identifying the most needy members of their communities.

This came after regional traditional authorities called on the government to come to the rescue of farmers who are drastically affected by the drought.

This call was made last week during a meeting that the Masubia, Mafwe, Mashi, and Mayeyi traditional leadership had with President Nangolo Mbumba at Katima Mulilo.

The prime minister said at the meeting: “We want to decentralise the drought-relief programme and provide vouchers to the beneficiaries for them to buy the goods from local shops.

“That way, we would support local businesses as well as cut costs on logistics and the transportation of goods from region to region.

“We have also started to source meat from our abattoirs for the drought-relief programme and by doing that, we are also supporting the communal farmers.

“We want to emphasise as a government that we want to build resilience against drought by putting up irrigation systems in case rain does not come or is too little.”

Masubia Traditional Authority leader Albius Kamwi said communal farmers in the region ploughed hundreds of hectares, hoping they would have a bumper harvest, however, to their dismay, their fields have dried out due to drought.

“Once crops germinated, the rain stopped and as we speak, the crop of farmers turned into dust. Our people definitely need support through the drought-relief programme until the next planting season.

“Already our people are struggling to secure maize as demand outweighs supply. The price of maize is now increasing drastically and very soon our people will not be able to afford it,” he said.

Kamwi said they anticipate that the region would soon also experience challenges regarding the water sources for both human and animal consumption due to drought.

He appealed to the government to drill more boreholes across the region.

“Without such assistance, life will indeed become unbearable, since most of the inland rivers have dried up,” he said.
Mafwe Traditional Authority spokesperson Eustus Mbanga said they are looking to the government for assistance as the farmers have not managed to harvest anything due to low rainfall.

“There will be hunger and starvation. Water for both domestic use and livestock and animals is severely affected.

“Therefore, we suggest that the national government drill more boreholes. Meatco must also be encouraged to buy more cattle from farmers before they die from a lack of grazing and water,” he said.

The Mayeyi Traditional Authority, in a statement read by Eustus Mbanga, said the drought poses serious challenges for people to get access to clean water.

He said there are not enough boreholes in his area of jurisdiction, and many of the existing ones are out of order.

“I call upon your intervention for the extension of the water pipeline to be extended from Kapani to Kongola to ensure the equal distribution of water to the communities in the region – especially in my area,” he said.

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