With the spectre of drought looming over Zambia, the government is scrambling to adjust its national budget to prioritize food security and mitigate the impact on vulnerable communities. The move comes amidst growing concerns about crop failure and rising food prices, threatening the livelihoods of millions.

“The drought presents a significant challenge, but we are committed to ensuring the well-being of our people,” declared Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane at a press conference last week. “We are adjusting our budget to allocate additional resources towards emergency food assistance, drought-resistant seeds, and irrigation infrastructure.”

The revised budget reportedly allocates an additional K10 billion (US$50 million) towards food security initiatives. This includes direct food distribution programs, cash transfers to vulnerable households, and the purchase of drought-tolerant seeds for smallholder farmers.

“Timely access to seeds is crucial for farmers to plant during the short window of opportunity when rains might arrive,” emphasized Musokotwane. “These interventions aim to minimize crop failure and ensure food availability for the most affected communities.”

Recognizing the need for long-term solutions, the government is also allocating funds towards long-term water management projects. This includes investments in irrigation infrastructure, rainwater harvesting systems, and climate-smart agricultural practices.

“Building resilience is key to preventing future food crises,” stated Agriculture Minister Reuben Mkandawire. “Investing in water management and climate-smart agriculture will help our farmers adapt to changing weather patterns and secure sustainable food production.”

While the government takes the lead, Musokotwane acknowledged the need for private-sector collaboration. He called upon businesses to contribute to the drought relief effort through donations, partnerships, and innovative solutions.

“The private sector has a vital role to play in supporting our national response,” stated Musokotwane. “We encourage businesses to join hands with the government and humanitarian organizations to address this challenge.”

Despite the proactive measures, concerns remain regarding the severity of the drought and its potential impact on the national economy. The World Food Programme warns that millions could face food insecurity in the coming months, highlighting the urgency of the situation.

“The situation is fluid, and we are closely monitoring developments,” concluded Musokotwane. “We are committed to adapting our response based on the evolving situation and ensuring that no one goes hungry.”