It didn’t make the headlines, but the African nation of Zambia has been hit by a serious and life-threatening drought, and it’s affecting more than 2-million people.
We met up with ChildFund Zambia’s new country director, Simba Machingaidze to talk about the situation.
THRIVE: Simba, can you describe to our supporters the drought situation in Zambia?
Simba Machingaidze (SM): For the past few months, a prolonged dry spell has led to drought, causing the production of our staple food crop (maize) to be significantly reduced. This has resulted in lack of food for the majority of our people.
Because of the food insecurity, the situation in Zambia has continued to deteriorate. Between now and March 2020, it is anticipated that 2.3 million people will be in crisis, or worse. As food continues to deplete, we will be in even more of an emergency situation.
THRIVE: Who is most affected by the drought?
SM: Small-scale farmers and their families have been most impacted by the drought. They have no capacity to irrigate their crops, so production this season has been limited.
Families with livestock have had to sell their animals for cash to buy food. This has led to asset depletion and may lead to extreme poverty if the situation does not normalise.
THRIVE: How is the drought impacting children in Zambia?
SM: Many children have had to leave school because of the drought conditions in Zambia. Instead of going to class, boys and girls are helping their parents by selling items on the roadside to earn money for food. Some have left the area with their families in search of better living conditions.
THRIVE: Are certain groups more vulnerable than others?
SM: Women and girls are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse during this period as they go in search of food. The boys are likely to engage in child labour, especially charcoal burning, fishing and hunting.
THRIVE: Has ChildFund put any measures in place to help families at risk of drought? Was there any resilience?
SM: ChildFund has trained some farmers on drought resistance, how to diversify crops and on climate-smart agriculture. Those who have received goats have been more resilient in the face of drought.
We need to scale this up. We have also promoted year round vegetable production in one sponsorship area. These families have been resilient to the drought, as they have been able to sell produce and buy maize meal for their families.
THRIVE: What can New Zealanders do to help children most affected by drought?
SM: The drought and hunger situation faced by children in Zambia is real and needs immediate action in order to recover. Any donations from New Zealanders towards drought relief would be most beneficial at this time. Emergency food, goats and green-garden packs will help provide much-needed food and resilience to families in the Luangwa region.
If we miss supporting families in the next few months, we will be dealing with serious hunger for years to come. You can help the children of Zambia by donating today.
THRIVE: Simba, you’re a new member of the ChildFund Zambia staff, please tell us about joining the team.
(SM): I’ve been part of the ChildFund Zambia team since September, but I’ve been working with ChildFund for more than 10 years. I joined the team because I believe in ChildFund’s purpose to create a better world - a world in which children realise their rights and can achieve their full potential.
All donations will make a big difference for the children and families in Luangwa. Thank you.
Between now and March 2020, it is anticipated that 2.3 million people will be in crisis, or worse.