Notes to broadcasters on drought

    | April 4, 2011

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    Zimbabwe suffered a prolonged dry spell in February and March. It’s expected that this mid-season lack of rainfall badly affected the upcoming harvest.  Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said that the provinces of Manicaland and metropolitan Bulawayo are being added to Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, Midlands and Masvingo as areas facing critical food shortages.

    At planting time last year, IRIN reported that Zimbabwean farmers were unsure when to plant because of the uncertain rains: Zimbabwe: Not knowing when to plant (see This year’s mid-season dry spell is another blow to farmers.

    Here are some sites with further information on the situation in Zimbabwe:

    -USAID’s FEWS NET site has updates on the situation

    -Zimbabwe lacks funds to transport food aid: minister

    -Zimbabwe Not Prepared for Looming Drought

    -Zimbabwe Drought Could Translate Into US$300 Million Grain Purchase Cost

    Here are three stories on drought published last year in Farm Radio Weekly:

    -Mali and Niger: Dealing with drought (FRW 117, June 2010).

    -East Africa: Pastoralists survive drought by adapting (FRW 110, May 2010).

    -Sahel: Fighting malnutrition with local food security and water management initiatives (FRW 122, August 2010).

    The following Farm Radio International scripts describe methods for selecting crops  and other techniques that may help farmers lessen the risk of drought:

    Changing farming production in Africa to adapt to climate change (Package 84, Script 14, August 2008)
    Farmers have important knowledge about weather and environmental change – Part I: Learning about local signs of drought (Package 75, Script 5, June 2005)
    -Farmers have important knowledge about weather and environmental change – Part II: Preparing for drought (Package 75, Script 6, June 2005)
    These Crops will Help you Through the Drought (Package 54, Script 9, January 2000)
    Choosing Crops for Drought-Prone Areas (Package 73, Script 3, January 2005)
    Sekedo, a drought resistant sorghum for Karamoja (Package 84, Script 1, August 2008)

    Perhaps farmers’ groups or other organizations in your community are involved in work to improve resilience to drought. If your radio station broadcasts to an area that is currently facing drought-related food shortages, find stories of communities or local organizations (such as farmers’ groups) that are working together to adapt to drought. Find out what they have done to improve their food security, including adopting alternative livelihoods, and share these stories to inspire others.

    Interview a range of people. Here are some questions to ask:
    -How do farmers and rural communities react to stories of famine from other regions?
    -Does the local government have plans to deal with such emergencies?
    -If your region is ever affected by flood, drought or hunger, how do NGOs and local authorities respond? Should they do more?