More Than 50 Million People Face Hunger Crisis Due to African Drought

More than 50 million people in 18 African nations face a hunger crisis due to extreme drought and other climate-related disasters, an international aid group says.

"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," Oxfam's Southern Africa Regional Director Nellie Nyang'wa said in a statement on the group's website. "The scale of the drought devastation across southern Africa is staggering."

The crisis is the result of extreme weather, especially a severe drought over large swaths of the continent, compounded by conflict and poverty.

Parts of Zimbabwe have had their lowest rainfall amounts since 1981, and maize crops in Zambia have been decimated. The situation is so desperate that some farmers in South Africa have reportedly committed suicide, according to Oxfam. At least nine other African nations are also suffering from drought.

At the same time, Oxfam says, record-breaking temperatures in the Indian Ocean have resulted in heavier-than-usual rainfall and flash floods in Kenya and South Sudan.

"In western Kenya, the crop harvest is 25% down, and in parts of Somalia, up to 60%," Oxfam's Horn, East and Central Africa regional director Lydia Zigomo said. "Livestock in many rural areas is emaciated and milk production is down. Cereal prices in some areas have rocketed up to five-year highs, pricing out poorer people. Nearly 7 (million) people in the region are living just below the catastrophic hunger line."

Zigomo added that people in poor and marginalized communities, especially women and girls, are "more exposed to the climate crisis and less able to cope and recover from its harm."

Earlier this year, two catastrophic cyclones wiped out crops in parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and other southern African countries, the Associated Press reported.

"The successive mixture of drought and flooding has been catastrophic for many communities," Kaitano Chungu, Secretary General of the Zambia Red Cross, told the AP. "In most of the affected areas, there isn't enough drinking water, which means that people and animals – both livestock and wildlife – are having to use the same water points."

At least 105 elephants have died in Zimbabwe because they don't have enough water or vegetation, according to Zimbabwe's National Parks.

Some families in the worst-affected areas have turned to eating wild fruits and roots to survive, Chungu said.

The extreme weather has displaced 2.6 million people across the continent, Oxfam said, and caused more than $700 million in economic losses in the last decade.




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