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" /> Voice Out Digital Extreme Drought in Southern Africa Leaves Millions Hungry | Voice Out Digital
Published On: Mon, Apr 1st, 2024

Extreme Drought in Southern Africa Leaves Millions Hungry

USAID’s Famine Early Warning System has said that with this year’s harvest there are overlapping crises of extreme weather in eastern and southern Africa, and other neighboring countries like zimbabwe, southern Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar won’t be able to feed themselves well into 2025, and has estimated that 20 million people would require food relief in southern Africa in the first few months of 2024.

UNICEF said in southern Africa, an estimated 9 million people, half of them children, need help in Malawi. More than 6 million in Zambia, 3 million of them children, are impacted by the drought, that’s nearly half of Malawi’s population and 30% of Zambia’s.

The United Nations Children’s Fund says there are overlapping crises of extreme weather in eastern and southern Africa, with both regions lurching between storms and floods and heat and drought in the past year.

 UNICEF’s Regional Director Eva Kadilli said “Distressingly, extreme weather is expected to be the norm in eastern and southern Africa in the years to come,” adding that while human-made climate change has spurred more erratic weather globally, there is something else parching southern Africa this year’’ She said.

El Niño, the naturally occurring climatic phenomenon that warms parts of the Pacific Ocean every two to seven years, has varied effects on the world’s weather. In southern Africa, it means below-average rainfall, sometimes drought, and is being blamed for the current situation.

It is said that the impact is more severe for those in Mangwe, where it’s notoriously arid. People grow the cereal grain sorghum and pearl millet, crops that are drought resistant and offer a chance at harvests, but even they failed to withstand the conditions this year.

 The World Food Programme’s Country Director for Zimbabwe Francesca Erdelmann said that last year’s harvest was bad, but this season is even worse. “This is not a normal circumstance,” she said.

A 77-year-old traditional leader in Mangwe Joseph Nleya, said he doesn’t remember it being this hot, this dry, this desperate. “Dams have no water, riverbeds are dry and boreholes are few. We were relying on wild fruits, but they have also dried up, people are illegally crossing into Botswana to search for food and “hunger is turning otherwise hard-working people into criminals,” he said.

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema since then has said that 1 million of the 2.2 million hectares of his country’s staple corn crop have been destroyed. Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has appealed for $200 million in humanitarian assistance.

The WFP’s Erdelmann highlighted that the 2.7 million struggling in rural Zimbabwe is not even the full picture. A nationwide crop assessment is underway and authorities are dreading the results, with the number needing help likely to skyrocket.

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