Southern African leaders meet as region faces food crisis

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A toxic mix of erratic rains, abnormally high temperatures and floods have wreaked havoc on farming, writing off the bulk of this year’s crop in southern Africa (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)
Johannesburg (AFP) – Leaders of 15 southern African countries will gather for an annual summit on Monday as the region grapples with serious food shortages that have left a record number of people needing aid.
A toxic mix of erratic rains, abnormally high temperatures and floods have wreaked havoc on farming, writing off the bulk of this year’s crop.
An estimated 27.4 million people out of the region’s combined population of 292 million — or nearly one in 10 people — will be depending on food handouts by the end of the year.
Yields of the staple corn have shrunk by up to 90 percent in some countries of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), a June report by the group said.
“Given the hazards faced, the number of food insecure people … increased by 13 percent (to) 27.4 million this year compared to 24.3 million for last year,” said the report.
But the leaders meeting in Botswana from Monday are not expected to launch a joint regional appeal for help.
“Instead, individual countries will do so,” said Margaret Nyirenda, director of SADC’s Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Division.
Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana are among the worst-hit.
– Worst in a decade –
World Food Programme spokesman David Orr told AFP Zimbabwe and Malawi were facing their “worst food security crisis” in a decade.
Zimbabwe, with a shortfall of 49 percent, will need to import 700,000 tonnes of the staple corn to feed 1.5 million people.
The country’s Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has already appealed for cash from “development agencies and the private sector” to ensure that the vulnerable are not “exposed to hunger and starvation”.
In Malawi floods earlier this …Read More

Source:: PM Newspaper