Scores dead amid worst Southern Africa drought


Desertification in Namibia

from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
Mozambique Bureau
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – THE extreme climate shocks bedeviling Southern Africa has left more than 130 people dead since the beginning of the year.

This comes as millions of people in the region grapple with the dual crises of hunger and flooding.

Over half of Malawi’s 19 million population, 6 million people in Zambia, over 3 million in Zimbabwe, and 3 million more in Mozambique are facing hunger.

Meanwhile, in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, floods wreaked havoc due to persistent heavy downpours that affected more than 50 000 people, barely two weeks after Tropical Storm Filipo hit parts of the country.

Aid agencies report that the hunger crisis is now pushing people in the four countries to resort to negative coping mechanisms such as skipping meals and selling their only assets to survive.

“Many people have nothing to eat, some have sold all their livestock to buy food, plunging themselves further into poverty,” said Jose Mucote, the Executive Director of Associacao Ajoago.

Oxfam, another humanitarian agency, said it was in such cases where climate financing was most needed to build up practical and sustainable solutions for smallholder food producers and people impacted by repeated climate shocks.

Machinda Marongwe, Oxfam director for Southern Africa, said donors must immediately release resources to support vulnerable families to avert the situation that could spiral into an unimaginable humanitarian situation.

“With all these countries facing multiple crises simultaneously, the urgency cannot be overstated,” Marongwe said.

In Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, extreme drought caused by El Nino has damaged over 2 million hectares of crops.

As a result, Malawi and Zambian governments have since declared a State of Disaster and Emergency.

This marks the fourth year that Malawi has declared a state of disaster due to the impacts of extreme weather conditions since 2020.

Zimbabwe also declared a state of disaster on Wednesday.

Southern Africa humanitarian agencies urgently need US$ 00 million in humanitarian aid to support over 24 million people in the four countries facing hunger.

A recently published report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reveals Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe received the lowest rainfall for the late January/February timeframe in at least 40 years.

Meanwhile, since October 2022, a cholera outbreak – which experts attribute to climate change – has killed more than 3 000 people and affected over 130 000 in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi.

– CAJ News

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