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Zimbabwe Lowers Economic Growth Forecast Amid Severe Drought

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HARARE,- Zimbabwe has revised its economic growth forecast for 2024 downwards as the country grapples with the worst drought in southern Africa in decades.

Minister Mthuli Ncube announced the new forecast on Wednesday, predicting a 2% growth rate for 2024, a significant drop from the 3.5% projected in November.

The revision is largely attributed to an El Niño-induced drought that has caused widespread crop failures. El Niño, a natural climate phenomenon, results in the unusual warming of surface waters in the central and eastern Pacific, leading to significant changes in global weather patterns.

Zimbabwe is among the countries hardest hit by this drought, severely impacting crop yields. Neighboring countries Zambia and Malawi have also declared states of disaster due to the drought’s devastating effects.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently echoed these concerns, predicting Zimbabwe’s growth to fall to 2% in 2024, down from 5.3% the previous year.

“We are all downgrading our growth targets for 2024 because of the deeper than expected impact on our agriculture,” Ncube stated, while expressing optimism for the future. “Next year is brighter,” he added, forecasting a recovery with growth expected to exceed 5% in 2025.

In May, the Zimbabwean government reported that staple maize production would plummet by 72% for the 2023/24 season. The drought’s impact on agriculture has been severe, with the country now anticipating the need to import 1.4 million metric tonnes of grain.

To mitigate hunger, Zimbabwe recently received around $32 million in drought insurance from an African Union agency and has appealed to international donors for food aid. Ncube is expected to provide further details in the mid-term budget review later this month.