32 million face hunger in drought-hit southern Africa: UN

May 12, 2016
Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique have all issued drought alerts in recent months, as thousands of cattle die, reservoirs are depleted and harvests fail

About 32 million people in southern Africa face hunger after a crippling drought worsened by the El Nino weather phenomenon devastated crops across the region, the UN's food agency said Thursday.

Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique have all issued alerts in recent months, as thousands of cattle die, reservoirs are depleted and harvests fail.

South Africa describes the drought as its worst in more than 100 years, while in neighbouring Namibia Coca-Cola announced that it will stop production of all canned drinks in the country because of a water shortage.

"There are already an estimated 32 million food-insecure people in the southern Africa region, largely as a result of drought which led to poor harvests last year," the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said in its latest report.

"There have been a lot of disruptions in the season as a result of El Nino coming on the back of a poor harvest from the previous season," WFP regional food security analyst Andrew Odero told a news conference in Johannesburg.

Dam levels were also "much lower" than at the same time last year—the beginning of the dry season—and countries which depend on hydro-power could face blackouts, he said.

"Zimbabwe is one the most hard hit," said Eddie Rowe, the country director for WFP.

"The country is coming out of a very poor agricultural season with 40 percent of normal corn production. It's already a fragile rural economy."

The WFP warned on Monday that Zimbabwe faced a $290 million shortfall in funding desperately required to feed up to 4.5 million people likely to be in need by next year.

Explore further: Malawi president declares national disaster after drought

Related Stories

Drought caused by El Nino threatening southern Africa: UN

February 12, 2016

The El Nino weather phenomenon, one of the worst in 50 years, has caused intense drought in southern Africa that will have a "devastating" impact on the region's food security, the UN food agency warned on Friday.

Zimbabwe declares 'state of disaster' over drought

February 5, 2016

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Friday declared a "state of disaster" in many rural areas hit by a severe drought, with more than a quarter of the population facing food shortages.

60 mn people worldwide hit by El Nino: UN

April 26, 2016

Some 60 million people worldwide need assistance due to havoc wreaked by the El Nino climate phenomenon, but a shortage of funding could threaten the delivery of life-saving aid, the UN warned Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Mount Everest, the high-altitude rubbish dump

June 17, 2018

Decades of commercial mountaineering have turned Mount Everest into the world's highest rubbish dump as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind.

When the river runs high

June 15, 2018

A massive world-wide study of dry riverbeds has found they're contributing more carbon emissions than previously thought, and this could help scientists better understand how to fight climate change.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.