14 Million Face Hunger in Southern Africa
Posted by feww on January 18, 2016
Southern Africa’s planting window closes with little or no prospect of rain
About 14 million people in southern Africa are facing hunger after a poor harvest last year caused by prolonged periods of drought.
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) says it is increasingly concerned about food security for an estimated 14 million people in southern Africa after prolonged periods of drought led to a poor harvest in 2015.
The window for the planting of cereals is closing rapidly, or already closed in some countries, with little or no rain falling in many areas, and the outlook is alarming, said WFP.
“Driving through southern Zambia, I saw fields of crops severely stressed from lack of water and met farmers who are struggling to cope with a second season of erratic rains,” said WFP Executive Director who recently visited to drought-prone southern Zambia. “Zambia is one of the biggest breadbaskets in the region and what’s happening there gives serious cause for concern not only for Zambia itself but all countries in the region.”
Worst affected in the region by last year’s poor rains are Malawi (2.8 million people facing hunger), Madagascar (nearly 1.9 million people) and Zimbabwe (1.5 million) where last year’s harvest was reduced by half compared to the previous year because of massive crop failure.
In Lesotho, the government last month declared a drought emergency and some 650,000 people – one third of the population – do not have enough food. In Lesotho as elsewhere, water is in extremely short supply for both crops and livestock. Also causing concern are Angola, Mozambique and Swaziland.
Food prices across southern Africa have been rising due to reduced production and availability. The price of maize – the staple for most of the region – is 73 percent higher in Malawi than the three-year average for this time of year.
“One particularly worrying symptom of southern Africa’s vulnerability to food and nutrition security is the alarming rate of chronic malnutrition. Levels of stunting among children in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia are among the worst in the world. This affects children’s physical growth, cognitive development, as well as their future health and productivity,” said the report.