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Southern Africa is in the middle of a drought that has been exacerbated by an El Nino weather pattern, causing about 14 million people to go hungry, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Monday.
Reuters, quoting the WFP, says the worst-affected country is Malawi, where 2.8 million people live and 16 per cent of the population are expected to go hungry. This is followed by the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, where almost 1.9 million are at risk.
In Zimbabwe, 1.5 million people, more than 10 percent of the population, face hunger, the WFP said.
“With little or no rain falling in many areas and the window for the planting of cereals closing fast or already closed in some countries, the outlook is alarming,” the U.N. agency said.
“WFP is looking to scale up its lean season food and cash-based assistance programmes in the worst-hit countries, but faces critical funding challenges,” it added.
The drought has hit much of the region, including the maize belt in South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy and the top producer of the staple grain.
South Africa faces its worst drought in decades after 2015 became the driest calendar year since records began in 1904. Expectations of poor harvest this season could force the country to import up to 6 million tonnes of maize, over half of its consumption needs.
Maize prices in South Africa hit record highs on Monday, with the March contract for the white variety scaling a new peak of 5,106 rand ($304) a tonne, according to Thomson Reuters’ data.
President Muhammadu Buhari has called for greater global cooperation against the devastating effects of climate change, reiterating Nigeria’s readiness to partner with global players to combat the scourge, the Daily Times reports.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2016 World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Monday, President Buhari reaffirmed Nigeria’s readiness to work with the UAE and the rest of the world in a collective effort to mitigate the effects of climate change.
According to a statement issued by his media aide, Femi Adesina, President Buhari said: “Africa is already suffering from the consequences of climate change, which include recurrent drought and floods. In Nigeria, the drastic drying up of the Lake Chad to just about 10 per cent of its original size has negatively impacted on the livelihood of millions of people, and contributed in making the region a hot bed of insurgency.
“Desert encroachment in Niger, our northern neighbor and in far northern Nigeria, at the rate of several hundred meters per annum, has impacted on the existence of man, animal and vegetation, threatening to alter the whole ecological balance of the sub-region”.
“In the middle and southern part of Nigeria”, the President added, “land erosion threatens farming, forestry, town and village peripheries and in some areas major highways”.
“Constant and abrupt alteration between floods and droughts prove that climate change is real, and therefore a global approach and cooperation to combat its effects will be vital if the human race is not to face disaster in the 21st century,” he concluded.