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World Bank stamps $208 million Zambia grant to face drought

July 2, 2024

The sum was granted to help the African nation address the social and economic impact of drought. Southern Africa has been hit by severe drought, partly due to the El Nino climate phenomenon.

Children play near stagnant pools of water in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday March 9, 2024.
The United Nations has called Zambia's agricultural season the 'driest' in over 40 yearsImage: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP/picture alliance

The World Bank has approved a grant for Zambia worth $208 million (roughly €193.7 million), as the southern African country struggles to address the impact of drought overwhelming the region.

Zambia's Finance Ministry announced the grant on Tuesday.

Severe drought in southern Africa leaves millions in need

What do we know about the grant?

The Finance Ministry said the grant was meant to help Lusaka effectively respond to the impact of the drought.

It would allow the government to provide more affected people with direct cash transfers, as well as roughly doubling the amount given per household per month, from the equivalent of around $8.30 to $16.60, the ministry said.

"The project development objective is to protect poor and vulnerable households' consumption in response to shocks in Zambia," World Bank Executive Director Dr Floribert Ngaruko was quoted in the Zambian statement as saying.

The grant is specifically expected to support over 1.6 million households across the 84 drought-impacted districts with cash assistance over a 12-month period, Ngaruko said.

Of this number, some 900,000 are already current beneficiary households. 

What we know about the drought

Southern Africa is experiencing its worst drought in years. It is partially impacted by the El Nino climate phenomenon, characterized by warmer sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near the equator with disruptive effects on global weather patterns.

The higher average temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions are also contributing to the drought.

The drought hit food production and the livelihoods of millions of people, prompting Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe to all declare a state of disaster.

The United Nations has called Zambia's agricultural season the "driest" in over 40 years, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs saying over nine million people in 84 out of the country's 117 districts are affected.

How El Nino contributes to drought in Africa

rmt/msh (Reuters, Zambian finance ministry)