Southern Africa: More People Than Ever Face Hunger in Southern Africa

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Harare — A record 45 million people in Southern Africa are food insecure as the region enters the peak of the lean season.

The season runs from January to March.

Zimbabwe is the worst affected by the deficit but Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia are grappling with shortages in a region comprising of 16 countries.

The severe food shortage is the worst to ever hit the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) region over decades.

The World Food Programme (WFP) requires a whopping US$284 million (R4 billion) to meet urgent food needs in affected countries.

The agency stated that as climate-related natural disasters were becoming more frequent, multi-year funding was crucial for sustainable and effective impact.

"The scale of the region's hunger crisis is unprecedented," WFP stated.

The seriousness of the situation is largely a consequence of widespread drought with Southern Africa having had one normal rainy season in the last five years.

Cyclones and persistent flooding have also affected food production.

Rising food prices and mounting joblessness, posing a risk of political instability in affected countries is worsening the plight of millions in affected countries.

Hunger is also deepening acute malnutrition in particularly vulnerable communities.

"The crisis could deepen this year," WFP warned.

Weather experts have also forecast an increased likelihood of below-normal rainfall in many parts of the region in January-to-March 2020.

This is the crucial growing period ahead of the main April-May harvest.

The food crisis has culminated in families having fewer meals, an increase in school dropouts and distress sale of livestock and other assets.

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