World Bank approves $208m for Zambia’s drought plight

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The World Bank has approved a $208 million (R3.8 billion) grant for Zambia to help address the social and economic impact of drought that has hit the southern African nation, its finance ministry said on Tuesday.

Southern Africa is enduring its worst drought in years owing to a combination of naturally occurring El Niño – when an abnormal warming of waters in the eastern Pacific radiates heat into the air leading to hotter weather across the world – with higher average temperatures produced by greenhouse gas emissions.

Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe have all declared a state of disaster because of the drought, which has hit food production and livelihoods of millions of people.

The World Bank grant is intended to help Zambia effectively respond to the impact of the drought through the provision of additional temporary cash payments to affected households.

“Specifically, it will support at least over 1.6 million households across 84 drought-impacted districts with emergency cash assistance over a 12-month period,” Zambia’s finance ministry said in a statement.

The World Bank financing would also strengthen existing social protection programmes, the ministry said.

The International Monetary Fund’s board last month approved a request from the Zambian government to increase its financial support to Zambia to $1.7 billion from $1.3bn to help the nation respond to the drought.