A severe drought that hit Southern Africa is projected to affect over 9m people. The drought has spread over the 2018-19 cropping season, according to the United Nations.
In its latest update, the UN World Food Program said about 9.2m in southern Africa were ‘acutely food insecure,’ and that the number could rise to more than 12m in the lean period between now and March 2020.
As such, the UN agency plans to assist approximately 5.4m people with life-saving assistance and critical livelihood interventions in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Madagascar, and Malawi.
A SADC report also revealed that an estimated 41m people could face hunger at the peak of the 2019/20 lean season. This has been attributed to the devastating impact of drought, flooding, cyclones, conflict and macroeconomic volatility in the region.
WFP reports that the number of food insecure people across the SADC region exceeds the level of need during the 2016/17 El Nino crisis. In addition, the eastern and central parts of the region experienced the driest season in over 35 years, with widespread crop failure observed in Zimbabwe, southern Zambia, northern Namibia, southern Angola and southern Botswana.
A regional food security assessment report which was issued in July this year showed that southern Africa has a cereal deficit of more than 5.4m tonnes this year after a drought ravaged the entire sub-continent last season.
According to food security experts, the region produced about 37.5m tonnes of cereals compared to 42.9m tonnes in the 2017 -18 cropping season, based on the 11 Sadc member states that provided cereal balance sheets for the 2018/19 harvest year.