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UN declares acute hunger in southern Africa

The United Nations (UN) has said about 16 countries in southern Africa, including Malawi, are food insecure as climate change has wreaked havoc in the region.

In a statement by World Food Programme (WFP), the programme’s Regional Director for Southern Africa Lola Castro says the crisis is impacting about 45 million people, many of whom are women and children.

“Eswathini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are among the countries headiest hit by repeated drought, widespread flooding and economic hardships,” Castro says.

According to WFP, many families across the region are already skipping meals and taking children out of school among others.

Castro has appealed to international community for help saying WFP has secured $205 million in funds out of the $489 million needed to provide aid to the countries.

The UN agency says Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are still reeling from the widespread devastation caused by Cyclone Idai last year.

According to the statement, nearly half of 15 million people in Zimbabwe are living in a state of chronic food insecurity and that an estimated 20 percent of the region’s populations have been hit by droughts, especially in Lesotho and Zambia, countries that have been well known as regional breadbasket.

New estimates by Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) indicates that 1,879,391 Malawians are facing hunger in the current season, an increase of 1,062 674 that Mvac estimated in May last year

“The November 2019 assessment has shown an increase in number of food-insecure people from 1,062,674 to 1,879,391 across the country, however there is no change in the number of months for intervention which are 2-5 months,” the report reads.

Currently, armyworms continue destroying thousands of hectares in almost all the districts in the country.

As of last week, fall armyworms had destroyed 144,000 hectares of crops, affecting 467,000 farmers.

The figure of hectares destroyed is almost triple that of 2017.

Last year, UN report said world hunger continues to rise due to conflict and climate change and weak economic growth leaving more people without enough to eat.

It warned of starvation and famines in Africa and Asia

The UN said this might affect the UN goal of eradicating hunger by 2030 as number of people starving has risen over the last three years.

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