from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – A RECORD 42 million people in Southern Africa might need food aid this year because of a combination of drought, floods and economic difficulties.
The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) is worsening the crisis.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 12 countries are at risk.
These are Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to exacerbate the already widespread food insecurity in southern Africa,” said Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for WFP.
The agency warned that nearly 16 million people could be directly impacted by the socio-economic consequences of the new virus, including 3 million in rural areas and 13 million in urban areas.
In rural areas, 26 million people are already food insecure due to drought, floods, conflicts or economic crises.
WFP expects a worsening situation with the impact of measures taken to limit the spread of the new virus.
“With the pandemic not expected to peak in Southern Africa until July and September, national governments are already struggling to meet the growing needs for food aid,” Byrs said.
WFP urgently needs $413 million (R7,5 billion) to cover the cost of pre-positioning three months of food aid in the region.
It needs an estimated $797 million (R14,5 billion) overall until October.
WFP is also establishing a regional centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, for cargo and humanitarian personnel.
– CAJ News