UN calls for urgent support as Southern Africa battles drought crisis

Staff Writer

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has called on the international community to provide urgent support to address the worsening drought crisis in Southern Africa.

The worst mid-season dry spell in over 100 years, marred by the lowest mid-season rainfall in 40 years, and exacerbated by an El Niño phenomenon, has severely impacted the population in Southern Africa.

People are enduring staggering levels of food insecurity, acute malnutrition, water scarcity and disease outbreaks.

Food insecurity, malnutrition and water scarcity have been exacerbated by extreme weather events, a deepening climate crisis.

In a region where 70% of smallholder farmers rely on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihood, the impact of the severe drought on food security is severe.

Overall, 20.9 million people, mainly in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Madagascar were projected to face acute food insecurity by May 2024.

The severe drought has also left the region in a water crisis which is not only affecting people and animals but regional energy generation.

While humanitarian partners are taking action, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the situation demands immediate and substantial resources to avert a large-scale humanitarian catastrophe.

“To kick-start the drought crisis response, partners are implementing anticipatory actions alongside scaling up response in several countries in Southern Africa. However, urgent support is needed to save lives and protect livelihoods, and to enable communities to build their resilience against future shocks,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

El Niño-induced heavy rains and flooding have not spared Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. For example, Tropical Storm Gamane in Madagascar led to widespread damage, displacement and disruption of services.

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