Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared a national disaster to tackle the prolonged drought crisis.

Mr Mnangagwa yesterday said the country needs $2bn (£1.6bn) to tackle hunger caused by low rainfall which has wiped out about half of the maize crop.

The grain shortage has pushed up food prices and an estimated 2.7 million people will face hunger.

Neighbouring Zambia and Malawi have also declared states of disaster due to drought recently.

The drought is a result of the El Nino global weather pattern and has triggered a humanitarian crisis in southern Africa.

Zimbabwe now joins the regional scramble to find enough maize on the international market.

Authorities say that the number of people needing food aid will be higher than the initial projection.

Zimbabwe was once the breadbasket of southern Africa, but in recent years has suffered bouts of severe drought affecting crops and cattle.

This is Zimbabwe’s worst drought since 2019. At the time, Zambia’s former President, Edgar Lungu, said it was “a stark reminder of what climate change is doing to our environment”.

Not all droughts are due to climate change, but excess heat in the atmosphere is drawing more moisture out of the earth and making droughts worse.

The world has already warmed by about 1.2C since the industrial era began and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions.