from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – HUMANITARIAN agencies are battling acute shortages of funds to assist more than 9 million people that are severely food insecure in Southern Africa.
The number is expected to rise to 12 million at the peak of the lean season later this year.
This comes as parts of the region are experiencing their lowest rainfall since 1981 and have had only two favourable agricultural seasons since 2012.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) stated that life-saving emergency assistance must be urgently scaled up across the region.
It stated that to date, there had been limited donor support for humanitarian response in some of these countries, partly because many of them were classified as upper or lower to middle-income.
“However, in each, extreme inequalities mean the poorest and most vulnerable are at acute risk of rising food insecurity, malnutrition, deepening poverty and indebtedness,” UNOCHA warned.
Eswatini, (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are worst affected.
In Mozambique, drought, two cyclones and violence in the north are expected to leave nearly 2 million people severely food insecure.
Namibia, which has received its lowest rainfall in 35 years, has at least 290 000 vulnerable people short of food.
In Eswatini and Lesotho, a quarter or more of the rural population will face crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity at the peak of the lean season
Zimbabwe is suffering the devastating combination of floods, dry spells and a severe economic downturn while in Zambia, more than 2.3 million people are expected to be severely food insecure.
– CAJ News