Southern Africa – February 24 2020

Roughly 45 million people in southern Africa urgently need humanitarian aid

A record 45 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 16 countries in Southern Africa, according to the United Nations’ global humanitarian overview for 2020.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) member countries, which are heavily dependent on rain-fed, smallholder agriculture, experienced irregular rainfall patterns, persistent drought, back-to-back cyclones and flooding which negatively affected harvests. 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, average temperature in the southern African region is rising about twice the global rate. Zambia, along with its neighbouring nations, is one of the countries increasingly affected by extreme weather shocks resulting in reduced agricultural productivity.

Shortage of food production is causing higher malnutrition rate, which resulted in the stunting of approximately 40% of children. Boreholes in Zambia are increasingly becoming overused, making access to safe drinking water a major concern. The drought has imposed risks and additional burden on women who are responsible for the care and feeding of children and the family.

In Zimbabwe, an estimated 3.6 million people (38% of the rural population) are faced with food insecurity, and the number is projected to rise to 5.5 million by March 2020. SOS Children Villages (SOS CVI) conducted rapid needs assessment and launched humanitarian appeal to raise funds to respond to the crises in the country.

Ayele Sebaro, Regional Emergency Response Advisor for SOS CVI, said: “Due to the food shortage, children are dropping-out of school and the elderly and persons with disabilities have assumed responsibility of care for children whose parents migrated in search of food to support the family.” Ayele added, “Due to their vulnerability, the children are forced into extreme coping mechanisms including engaging in child labour, child trafficking, early marriage and transactional sex exposing them to HIV infections and other diseases.”

In Mozambique, two million people are experiencing “crisis” and “emergency” levels of food shortage and drought due to the effect of cyclones and flooding.

“It is worth noting that this is more than double the level of previous year,” said Ailton Muchave, National Director for SOS Children’s Villages Mozambique. More than half a million people still live in damaged homes or makeshift shelters months after being hit by two cyclones last year. As erratic floods and cyclones damaged 700,000 hectares of crops, numerous households will require assistance to support their livelihoods.  

The SADC countries affected by the climate-change related natural disasters include: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Not only immediate assistance is required to support the people affected by this humanitarian disasters, but a multi-year, coordinated and strategic funding is required to ensure sustainable rehabilitation to build resilient communities.

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