Food crisis in southern Africa may deepen next month WFP warns

A “vicious” dry spell on top of a poor harvest mean the already-high numbers of people in southern Africa dependent on food aid may rise again in April and May, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today. The agency said that $69 million was needed urgently to feed some 2.6 million people currently facing malnutrition. Describing donor response to its repeated pleas for food and funds as “sluggish,” WFP said that more than 145,000 tons of food were required immediately to ensure people in five countries – Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe – already facing hunger are fed. WFP said it was is concerned that the poor response to current emergency needs does not auger well for the worsening situation its experts anticipate may arise next month. “If we can’t get enough food to feed 2.6 million people right now, what will happen when potentially millions more need our help in months ahead?” said WFP’s Regional Director for east and southern Africa, Judith Lewis. “Much more must be swiftly done to stave off the spread of hunger and malnutrition.” Initial estimates of the April/May harvest show that the dry spell and low maize production will mean withered crops throughout the region, according to WFP. If the estimates prove accurate, these poor yields coming on the heels of a similarly poor harvest in 2000/2001, will have a “devastating” impact. WFP and it partners are gearing up for a major response, and assessment missions are reviewing needs in six southern African countries — those currently in crisis plus Swaziland. “The situation for people all over southern Africa is very bleak,” Ms. Lewis said. “Now is the time to act to prevent what is a crisis from developing into a major disaster.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *