The Zambian government said on Wednesday that the southern African nation was a sovereign state which has the right to make independent decisions and will not be forced to declare the hunger situation in some parts of the country a national disaster.
In reacting to a statement by outgoing British High Commissioner to Zambia Fergus Cochrane-Dyet who questioned the Zambian government refusal to declare the hunger situation a crisis, Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya said it was the preserve of the country’s president to declare a national disaster and will not be dictated to.
In his statement, the British envoy said it was shocking that the government has not declared a food crisis when neighboring countries have done so.
He said declaring an emergency would unlock international humanitarian assistance that donors can’t otherwise provide and warned that an estimated 2.5 million Zambians will soon be in a crisis.
But the government spokesperson said the government has acknowledged the hunger situation in some parts was serious and was doing everything possible to ensure that food was distributed to all needy people.
“The key issue that is considered in declaring a national disaster, is the severity of the incident and the affected communities’ capacity to cope, in conjunction with government interventions,” she said in a statement.
According to her, the resources to deal with the food insecurity were available and that the government has the capacity to deal with the situation without the need to rush to declare a national disaster.
The distribution of relief food by government through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit is ongoing, she added. Enditem