Zimbabwe awaits disaster relief funds, reallocates budget for drought response

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is waiting on disaster insurance payouts from abroad and will also reallocate funds from the national budget as part of its response to the current drought.

The government purchased disaster insurance last year to cover shortfalls in agricultural output. The Ministry is still awaiting confirmation on the amount of compensation it will receive. Once confirmed, the Ministry will notify citizens and intended beneficiaries.

Zimbabwe is facing a national drought disaster. President Emmerson Mnangagwa estimates the country needs US$2 billion to address hunger caused by low rainfall that has destroyed nearly half of Zimbabwe’s maize crop.

Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, outlined the government’s measures to tackle the drought and support vulnerable populations.

“Due to this year’s drought, we will have to reallocate some budget resources to accommodate any need to import additional grain for our most vulnerable citizens,” Prof Ncube said in a recent interview with journalists in Bulawayo.

“We’ve also opened the borders to allow those with funds to import freely, ensuring citizens have access to food. Thankfully, there has been good progress on imports.”

The Minister explained that President Mnangagwa’s declaration of a state of disaster for the 2023/2024 agricultural season has encouraged international support for Zimbabwe.

Professor Ncube added that the government purchased disaster insurance abroad last year and is now awaiting payouts.

“We purchased disaster insurance and are calling upon that insurance company. They have indicated a willingness to release payments, which we will use to support our citizens,” he said. “This is part of a larger package of measures to deal with the drought, including budget allocations and reallocations.”

The Minister clarified that disaster insurance is a standard product designed to cover shortfalls in agricultural output.

“It’s a technical process,” Prof Ncube explained. “Experts calculate the premium based on risk factors, and we’ve paid that premium. Now they’ve determined the compensation amount for the drought.”

He added that the payouts will be finalized soon, and the government will then announce the districts most likely to benefit from the insurance.

“We can’t spread the funds too thinly. We need to target specific districts where the situation is most critical and ensure those citizens are protected through cash transfers, food assistance, and other means. The exact amount is still under review, and we will formally announce it once confirmed,” said the Minister.

According to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, July Moyo, 6.1 million people in rural areas are currently relying on food handouts, while cash transfers for 1.7 million urban residents are still pending. Food shortages, however, have driven food prices up due to inflation.

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