Over 52 Million Africans in Need of Food

By Tione Andsen

More than 52 million people across Africa are faced with acute food shortage as result of weather extremes that hit the continent.

According latest Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) October 2019, Report are indicating that over 1.1 million Malawians will need urgent food suppliers to avert hunger which is looming in some districts of the country.

Among the affected millions are displaced including women, girls are hit hardest, crisis’s have compounded by conflicts, poverty and inequality; US$ 700 million average climate related losses and urgent action needed now 

Over 18 countries across southern, eastern and central Africa are facing up to crisis levels of hunger as a result of weather extremes, compounded by poverty and conflict.

Some areas are facing a second extreme drought in four years and worse than that sparked by El Nino in 1981.

The southern parts of Zimbabwe have had their lowest rainfall since 1981 which has helped push more than 5.5m and people are into extreme food insecurity.

Zambia’s rich maize-growing area has been decimated and exports are now banned; 2.3 million people there are food insecure.

Drought has hit the East and Horn of Africa particularly Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia and at the same time, record-breaking temperatures in the Indian Ocean have dumped ultra-heavy rainfalls into Kenya and South Sudan, causing flash-flooding especially along major river arteries.

South Sudan has declared a state of emergency with more than 900,000 people hit by floods.

Across the continent, 7.6 million people were displaced by conflict in the first six months of 2019, and another 2.6 million by extreme weather.

In the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan have simultaneously faced over 750 000 people displaced by conflict and 350 000 displaced by extreme weather.

Oxfam has noted that over the last decade, these 18 African countries have collectively suffered average annual losses of $700m from climate-related disasters and this is without counting the cost of these latest crises.

Officials at the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in Durban Nov 11-15, 2019 discussed the future of Africa’s “environmental sustainability and prosperity.”

Oxfam urges Ministers to demand that industrial nations honour their promises to avoid escalating human and financial costs and to pay for damages.

Oxfam’s Southern Africa Regional Director, Nellie Nyang’wa said, “We are witnessing millions of already poor people facing extreme food insecurity and exhausting their reserves because of compounding climate shocks that hit already vulnerable communities hardest. They need help urgently. The scale of the drought devastation across southern Africa is staggering.”

“In western Kenya, the crop harvest is 25 per cent down and in parts of Somalia up to 60 per cent. Livestock in many rural areas are emaciated and milk production is down. Cereal prices in some areas have rocketed up to five-year highs, pricing out poorer people. Nearly seven million people in the region are living just below the catastrophic hunger line,” Oxfam’s Horn, East and Central Africa Regional Director, Lydia Zigomo pointed out.

She added that, “It was a vicious cycle where poor and marginalized communities, mostly women and girls, are more exposed to the climate crisis and less able to cope and recover from its harm.”

Chief Executive of Oxfam’s partner PACJA, Mithika Mwenda observed that, “Communities at the frontline of this climate crisis are overstretched and may be facing potential annihilation. But local people are doing everything that can to overcome the challenge. There are unprecedented levels of organization happening where governments have let local people down.”

Oxfam is responding to the humanitarian needs in Ethiopia, DRC, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.-MANA

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