Over 52 million face hunger crisis due to extreme weather in Africa

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More than 52 million in 18 countries across Africa are experiencing up to crisis levels of starvation due to weather extremes worsened by poverty and conflict, according to Oxfam. Some areas are suffering from the second extreme drought in four years, which was worse than that in 1981.

The 18 countries affected are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

In the south, parts of Zimbabwe have seen the lowest rainfall ever since 1981, which has pushed more than 5 million people into severe food insecurity.

Meanwhile, Zambia’s rich maize-growing sites have been decimated with exports now banned, increasing the number of food insecure to over 2 million.

Reports said the situation is getting worse in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

In Kenya and South Sudan, heavy rainfalls are persistent, resulting in flash flooding particularly along major river arteries. South Sudan has already declared a state of emergency with over 900 000 people affected by floods. The heavy downpour was brought by the record-breaking temperatures in the Indian Ocean.

“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,” said Nellie Nyang’wa, Oxfam’s Southern Africa Regional Director.

“In western Kenya, the crop harvest is 25% down and in parts of Somalia up to 60%. 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 7m people in the region are living just below the catastrophic hunger line,” said Oxfam’s Horn, East and Central Africa regional director Lydia Zigomo.

“It is 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.”

Mithika Mwenda, chief executive of Oxfam’s partner PACJA, said “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.”

“We’re seeing people trying to cope with shifting seasons and erratic rainfall by finding new ways to make a living off-farm. Women are coming together to pool their resources through small internal lending communities, buying food together, growing sweet potatoes instead of maize – all without outside support. Local people have the solutions but what they lack is resources, especially funding.”

Mwenda continued, “Our leaders should look to support these community solutions to build up people’s resilience to climate change. For 35 years AMCEN has been a very important platform with impactful policies that have helped to create awareness of environmental sustainability. It needs to move away now from policymaking to policy implementation.”

Featured image credit: @thor1991/Unsplash





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