Zimbabwe’s dam levels have fallen to 42 percent following a devastating drought that has left millions in need of food aid and local councils rationing water, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Friday.

An El Nino weather pattern, which ended in May, triggered drought conditions across the southern African region that hit the staple, maize, and other crops and dented economic growth.

Mnangagwa said the last time Zimbabwe experienced such a severe drought was in 1992, adding that the biggest dam in the south of the country was only 9 percent full.

The worst affected are people in the rural areas, where some boreholes and small dams have dried up, Mnangagwa said at the launch of an emergency drought response programme in Harare.

“In Zimbabwe, the drought has resulted in record low dam levels, with the national average dam level being 42 percent at a time of the year when it is usually 50 percent,” Mnangagwa said. “Ground water levels have also not been spared.”

The two biggest cities, Harare and Bulawayo, last week started scheduled water cuts.

 

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Ed Cropley)