JOHANNESBURG, OCTOBER 31 – A record 45 million people across the 16-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) will be severely food insecure in the next six months, United Nations food agencies have warned. “We are suffering the worst drought in 35 years in the western and central area during the growing season… We must meet the pressing emergency food and nutrition needs of millions of people, but also invest in building the resilience of those threatened by ever more frequent and severe droughts, floods and storms” warned Margaret Malu, WFP’s acting Regional Director for Southern Africa, following the joint statement released by WFP, FAO and IFAD calling for urgent funds to fight food insecurity.
Funding is needed to revert this humanitarian crisis and strengthen the resilience of communities threatened by climate shocks. Southern Africa is heavily dependent on smallholder agriculture, yet harvests keep experiencing limited rainfall, droughts, cyclones and flooding. Currently, 11 million people -from Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Eswatini and Lesotho- are facing ‘crisis’ and ’emergency’ food insecurity levels. The hunger crisis is being worsened by factors like “rising food prices, large-scale livestock losses and mounting joblessness,” explains the FAO website.
The Rome-based UN food agencies are preparing to assist 11 million people by mid-2020. Their assistance will not be limited to tackling nutrition needs. Indeed, they aim to provide smallholders with the tools required to maximize production, like soil and water management skills, climate-smart agricultural practices and vaccination campaigns meant to minimize disease among livestock.
Robson Mutand, IFAD Director for the Southern Africa Hub, called on governments and individuals to act: “With the region so prone to shocks and afflicted by high rates of chronic hunger, inequality and structural poverty, climate change is an existential emergency which must be tackled with the utmost urgency…Governments have the biggest role to play, but we must all step up because it affects each and every one of us.” (SB@OnuItalia)