November 21, 2005

Zambia declares national food disaster

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has declared a national disaster and appealed to the international community for food aid after government estimates showed that 1,2-million people face famine. He announced that he would abide by a parliamentary resolution that urged the government to declare a national disaster over the food shortages affecting the country of 11-million. Before, opposition members had presented a motion that won unanimous support, urging the government to declare the food crisis a national disaster. The government then admitted the severe food shortages and appealed for $18-million in aid to tide over the crisis.
Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatana had before told reporters that the country was not facing any food shortages and that his government had secured enough food to feed those affected by hunger. Zambia has only allowed the import of 200 000 metric tonnes of maize into the country as a precautionary measure, though it insisted that the country has adequate food to feed its people. The price of cornmeal, the national staple, has skyrocketed in recent months following shortages of maize in the local market. (The Times of Zambia, Ndola)

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