Botswana: Hunger stalks SADC as lean season beckons

APA-Gaborone (Botswana)

A record 45 million people in Southern African are food insecure as the region enters the peak of the lean season (January-March 2020), a report released by the World Food Programme (WFP) on Wednesday shows.

WFP said it plans to support 8.3 million people facing hunger in eight countries in Southern African Development Community (SADC): Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

According to the United Nations agency, it is scaling up to support the affected people over the next six months with in-kind food and cash assistance.

It said it has so far secured US$205 million out of the US$489 million it requires to meet urgent food needs in the region.

"Food is procured locally and regionally to the extent possible, although food production in the region has been below average due to the drought," the organization said.

Immediate funding is required for WFP to continue assisting those struggling to feed themselves and avert a deeper disaster.

It noted that climate-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent, multi-year funding is crucial for sustainable and effective impact.

WFP noted that driven by climate change, millions of people are experiencing crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity.

"The severity of the situation is largely a consequence of the cumulative effects of climate-related natural disasters in the form of recurrent widespread drought — the region has only had one normal rainy season in the last five years —cyclones and persistent flooding.

"For hard-hit families in a region heavily dependent on rain-fed smallholder farming, this means limited food stocks; fewer meals; more children out of school; the distress sale of livestock and other assets; and other negative coping strategies." said the organization.


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