from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – UP to 12 million people are facing a hunger crisis in Southern Africa as a result of recurrent droughts.
Angola, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe are the nine countries included in the severely food insecurity figures.
Some of the countries in the region are experiencing their lowest rainfall since 1981 while others have endured the destruction of cyclones, pests and disease.
Rising humanitarian needs and increasing suffering have exacerbated protection concerns, particularly for women and children, and heightened the risk of transmission of HIV.
Comoros, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe were all hit by the Cyclone Idai and/or Cyclone Kenneth weather systems.
Angola, Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia have all declared drought disasters.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that since 2012, Southern Africa had seen only two favourable agricultural seasons.
Increasing numbers of acutely malnourished children have been reported in parts of Angola, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
OCHA warned that the risk of gender-based violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, particularly for women and children, had risen due to disasters and food insecurity in the region.
Deteriorating economic prospects have exacerbated poverty and inequality and hampered access to essential services, including healthcare.
Drought, floods and diminishing access to clean water have increased the risk of communicable disease outbreaks.
– CAJ News