HARARE, Zimbabwe, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- A drought disaster was declared by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe Friday, the first step in global donations of humanitarian aid.
The number of those in the African country of 12 million in need of emergency food assistance rose from 1.5 million to 2.4 million, local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere said Friday in a statement.
Legislators in Harare, the capital, were told the government has earmarked $200 million for food imports.
Cattle are dying because of parched grasslands caused by a lack of rain. Zimbabwe's agricultural sector, notably its cotton and tobacco farmers, are also experiencing problems, and the droughts have affected corn growers in South Africa, Malawi and Zambia.
"The situation is deteriorating at an alarming rate. We're approaching an unprecedented food insecurity situation, not just in Zimbabwe, but in the southern African region," Eddie Rowe of the U.N. World Food Program said, adding emergency food deliveries would be required for up to one year.