- Title: ZAMBIA: Food alert as floods destroy crops in southern Zambia
- Date: 9th January 2008
- Summary: MAN CARRYING TWO BICYCLES CROSSING WATER PEOPLE AND COWS CROSSING WATER MEN WITH OX-CART CROSSING WATER
- Embargoed: 24th January 2008 12:00
- Location: Zambia
- Country: Zambia
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes,Weather
- Reuters ID: LVA7INWHPS1W5KRK58TK0KE3DXJ1
- Story Text: Floods have destroyed crops in some parts of southern Zambia and raised fears that white maize output might fall, as the government placed nearly half the country on flood alert.
The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has warned that heavy rains across Zambia had wiped out some plantings, while some of the crop had lost nutrients due to excessive water and lack of sunshine.
Zambia is still trying to cope with over one million people that were affected by floods last year. About 1.5 million Zambians may have to flee their homes this year because of the floods that have killed at least six people in neighbouring Mozambique and cut off parts of Zimbabwe, where millions already battle to survive amid a deep economic crisis.
"The idea is that if last year we had 1.3 (million people affected) and the meteorological department is indicating that the situation could be worse this year, it is likely that we could end up with slightly more people affected than last year, that's why the 1.5 (million people),"
said Austin Sichinga, the permanent secretary of the country's disaster management unit.
Officials say this season's plantings had been expected to raise white maize output above the 1.36 million tonnes harvested in 2007.
Meanwhile the government has failed to do a proper assessment of the damage to the crops because most roads were inaccessible, while some culverts leading to farming blocs had been washed away.
The government also said it had placed 34 districts on flood alert and set aside funds to help victims.
"The funding is approximately 52 billion (kwacha) or 14 million US dollars and that covers various areas, the health, nutrition, infrastructure, relief food...repairs to infrastructure," Sichinga added.
Drought and lack of farming inputs for farmers shortly after 2000 led to crippling maize shortages in the southern African country.
But the country has managed to produce surplus maize over the last three years, boosted by the government's policy to provide subsidized pesticides and seed to farmers.
The state disaster management unit said it anticipated more flooding in coming weeks.
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