Severe food shortages in southern Africa worsening dramatically
Severe drought said to be related to El Nino weather pattern is affecting southern and eastern Africa. Drought follows extreme rain events and severe flooding that had previously inundated parts of the region.
“The crisis has affected some 32 million people in Southern Africa alone, and experts say they expect new assessments to rise to nearly 50 million people in early June.”
The UN World Food Program estimates that 16 million people in southern Africa are affected by the El Nino phenomenon, and that’s not counting the drastic increase of numbers in South Africa. Seven of the country’s nine provinces have been declared disaster areas. The government has channeled the equivalent of 55 million euros towards emergency aid. A country which normally produces so much corn that it can provide for the needs in neighboring Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland is now forced to import huge quantities.
Hunger in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe declared a state of emergency back in February. Owing to the drought, today almost one out of three Zimbabweans is dependent on aid. In the past twelve months, rain precipitation was about half that of the previous year.
The situation is particularly dire in the Mudzi district in northeastern Zimbabwe, on the border with Mozambique. Over 85 percent of the population there is dependent on food aid.
Malawi plagued by extreme drought
Malawi is also suffering from extreme drought. Prices for staple foods like corn, beans and rice, have risen steeply. People this year have less than five percent of the amount produced in recent years at their disposal. More than half of the country’s population of 15 million is now dependent on aid. Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika declared a state of emergency in April and called on the world to help.
Mozambique: Drought in the south, floods in the north
Most water sources in the country have dried up. Much of the water that can still be found is salty. Animals are dying and the harvest will be even more meager than last year. A total of 600,000 Mozambicans are dependent on emergency aid. Authorities expect the number to increase significantly in the next couple of weeks. Rita Namucho, spokesperson for the country’s national water utilities, is very worried about the situation in Combumune: “For the last few months it has been possible to cross the river on foot. This is unusual because we are still in the rainy season.”
Meanwhile, recent rains in the north have destroyed 3,500 houses. “Many people drowned in the floods,” director of the Mozambican Center for Civil Protection told DW. Mozambique is one of the ten countries of the world hardest hit by climate change.
Angola’s government ‘is looking away‘
In Angola, the areas most affected by drought are the southern provinces of Cunene and Huila. DW correspondents have reported about people dying of hunger in an area inhabited by some three million people.