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Record 45 mn people need urgent food aid in southern Africa: UN

PTI | Johannesburg | Updated: 16-01-2020 17:53 IST | Created: 16-01-2020 17:50 IST
Record 45 mn people need urgent food aid in southern Africa: UN
Representative image Image Credit: Wikipedia

An unprecedented 45 million people in southern Africa are in urgent need of food aid due to drought, flooding and economic hardship, the UN said Thursday. "This hunger crisis is on a scale we've not seen before and the evidence shows it's going to get worse," World Food Programme (WFP) regional director Lola Castro said in a statement.

The agency warned that it had only secured USD 205 million (184 million euros) of the USD 489 million it requires. "If we don't receive the necessary funding, we'll have no choice but to assist fewer of those most in need, and with less," Castro said.

Low growth, rising population, drought, and floods have combined to worsen food insecurity in the region, with Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe the worst-hit. Nearly half of Zimbabwe's 15 million people live in a state of chronic food insecurity -- some 2.2 million in urban areas and five million in the countryside, according to UN figures.

Twenty percent of the population in drought-stricken Lesotho and about 10 percent of Namibians are food insecure. In October, Zambia's Red Cross flagged that the drought had left an estimated 2.3 million people facing "severe food insecurity".

The country was a longtime regional breadbasket. The WFP warned that families across the region were already eating less, skipping meals, taking children out of school, selling off precious assets and falling into debt to stave off agricultural losses.

Women and children are the worst affected. Meanwhile, experts have forecast more months of hot and dry weather in the coming months, auguring another poor harvest.

The situation could escalate further as the dry season may last longer than usual, affecting the annual cereal harvest in April. The WFP plans to provide lean season assistance to 8.3 million people in areas that are grappling with crisis levels of hunger.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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