President Hakainde Hichilema declared a national disaster in response to a crippling drought that has decimated Zambia’s agriculture sector. In his somber address, the president underscored the far-reaching consequences for the nation’s food security and livelihoods.

The prolonged lack of rain, fueled by the El Nino weather pattern and exacerbated by climate change, has wiped out nearly half of the nation’s crops, the president revealed. This devastating blow follows a series of extreme weather events in the past year, leaving a trail of hardship and vulnerability for Zambia’s farmers.

“The destruction caused by the prolonged drought spell is immense,” President Hichilema stated. “We are looking at over 1 million of our farming households severely affected. This is a grave threat to national food security, and the well-being of our people.”

Experts warn that the drought’s impact doesn’t end with agriculture. Zambia relies heavily on hydroelectric power, meaning there are serious risks of cascading energy disruptions. The government has already outlined a response plan focused on securing food supplies and mobilizing aid and resources to mitigate the crisis.

President Hichilema called for urgent support from national and international agencies and businesses to join forces. He emphasized that overcoming the challenge will require a concerted effort on all fronts.