Angola: Hunger Rises As Severe Drought Grips Angola

A farm near Bongo, Huambo, Angola (file image).

Geneva — The World Food Program is warning of severe food shortages and rising hunger in Angola as the country is gripped by its worst drought in nearly four decades.

Angola's rainy season, which normally runs from November to April, is delivering a trickle of the rainfall needed to grow a good crop and raise healthy livestock. The abnormal dryness is adversely affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in the country's southwestern provinces.

World Vision Australia said 11 million people, half of them children, were being affected by the high price of food and rising hunger. The World Food Program said conditions were not expected to improve in the coming months because of the below-average rainfall.

WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri said Angola's water shortage was damaging crops, with losses of up to 40%. In addition, he said, lack of grazing land risks decimating people's livestock.

"WFP is extremely concerned, given the chronic food insecurity and malnutrition rates in the worst- affected areas," Phiri said. "The situation is also reportedly giving rise to migratory movements, with families moving towards other provinces and across the border into Namibia."

The U.N. children's fund (UNICEF) said Angola has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, with nearly 75 deaths per 1,000 live births.

There is also a great disparity in the mineral-rich African nation, with some people extremely wealthy and others living in poverty. The United Nations said 40% of the Angolan population lives below the poverty line.

Because Angola is moving toward being classified as a middle-income country, the World Food Program does not provide food aid to the hungry. Phiri said the government was able to take care of its own people.

However, he added, WFP provides technical assistance and expertise to improve conditions for the needy. For instance, he said, WFP is helping the government expand its school feeding programs, particularly in the south and southwest. It also is involved in the response to malnutrition, a chronic problem in the country.

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