Monday, March 28, 2016

Alert: Hunger crisis deepening in 34 African countries

 The UN agencies and African Union experts are expected to later this month meet in Zimbabwe to draw up plans to avert severe food crises in 27 African countries where millions need food aid. At least 4 million Zimbabweans urgently need assistance.

A committee comprised of UN agencies, government officials, and NGO activists, last year concluded that 1.5 million needed food aid. They also appealed for $1.6 billion (1.5 billion euros) in aid to help pay for grain and other food 
The latest report released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says 34 countries around the world need food assistance due to droughts, flooding and ongoing conflicts. Among those countries, 27 are located in Africa. That report notes that the regions most in need of humanitarian support are eastern and southern Africa. In Southern Africa, 49 million there face hunger this year due to drought exacerbated by an El Nino weather pattern.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says at least 17 percent of Malawians are affected. Prices for maize, the nation’s staple crop, are already more than 60 percent above the 3-year average for this time of the year, making it increasingly difficult for many people to buy food.
The WFP says the inflation rate in the region is at 23.5 per cent and its currency is on average 170 per cent higher than its exchange rate against the US dollar compared to the same period last year. According to a report by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee, it is estimated that about 2.8 million people in the country are in need of food aid following last season’s dry spell and floods.
The United Nations has warned that Tanzania is among countries that might be severely affected by El Niño weather phenomenon this year.
According to UN Under- Secretary-General for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,   Stephen O’Brien, the period in which Tanzania might be affected is between January and March. Other countries that are also at the risk of being affected by El Nino include Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique.
In most countries poor rains had resulted in drought like conditions in the northern parts of East African countries, mostly Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea, while other parts of the region had experienced a wetter than normal season.
By early 2016, projections indicate that at least 22 million people will be food insecure across the region and between 2.7 million and 3.5 million people could be affected by floods. The UN relief chief further said Ethiopia was the country most affected so far as it faces the worst drought in 30 years.
Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) had earlier warned the public to remain alert over the looming El Nino threat, saying the rains may continue until April, this year

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