Government has assured development partners that it is taking measures to address economic challenges and ensure that no Zambian starves due to prolonged dry spells experienced in southern and western parts of the country.

Officially opening a high-level policy dialogue with development partners in Lusaka, Tuesday, the Minister of National Planning Alexander Chiteme said Government, like other stakeholders, was concerned with the macro-economic challenges that nation was facing.

According to a statement issued by Ministry of National Planning spokesperson Chibaula Silwamba, Chiteme expressed concern that there had been too much information from unofficial sources in the media, which was undermining confidence in the economy.

“With the prolonged dry spells experienced in the southern and western parts of the country during the last rain season, we expect some households in the affected areas to be food insecure,” Chiteme said.

“Nevertheless, Government has taken the position that no Zambian should starve as a result of this precarious situation. therefore, government intends to take measures to address all cases of food insecurity once verified by the responsible agencies.”

The High-Level Policy Dialogue co-chaired by Chiteme and UK Department for International Development (DfID) Zambia head Mark Richardson is focusing on economy and food security with two thematic topics of discussions namely: “economic performance – recent measures announced by the Ministry of Finance and how development partners can support effective implementation of the measures” and “food security – vulnerability and impact following the drought and government’s response plans”.

The outcome of the meeting will feed into the National Development Coordinating Committee (NDCC) meeting.

The Minister said the High-Level Policy Dialogue demonstrates Government’s willingness to listen to the views of development partners and other stakeholders.

“I pledge Government’s open-mindedness and transparency in the way it will conduct this dialogue. We will build on this initiative to establish a regular and permanent platform on which we will engage with our cooperating partners at this high level,” said Chiteme.

Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe assured the development partners about the measures the Government was putting in place to sustain the economy.

Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo said the Government was managing the food security situation despite the problems of climate change affecting food production in some parts of the country.

Meanwhile, Minister of Justice Given Lubinda, his counterpart in the Vice-President’s office Sylvia Chalikosa and permanent secretaries participated in deliberations at the High-Level Policy Dialogue.

The Ministers responded to questions from development partners about various issues.

Ambassadors and High Commissioners, heads of UN agencies in Zambia and other leaders of development partners participated in the meeting.