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Six million hungry in southern Africa

Six million hungry in southern Africa

http://www.iol.co.za

March 4 2013 at 05:56pm
By Reuters

File image - A malnourished child lies in his bed at a feeding centre. 
REUTERS/Antony Njuguna
Geneva - More than 6 million people across Angola, Lesotho, Malawi and 
Zimbabwe are at risk of severe food shortages because of repeated cycles of 
drought and flooding, the global humanitarian body IFRC said on Monday.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said 
the crisis was passing largely unnoticed in the outside world and its 
appeals for financial support had won limited support.

“This is a chronic crisis in which cycles of drought and flooding are 
destroying crops, livestock and safe drinking-water supplies. People don't 
have enough to eat or clean water to drink,” said IFRC official Alexander 
Matheou.

“Malaria, cholera and diarrhoea are common,” said Matheou, the Geneva-based 
body's regional representative in southern Africa, in a statement 
distributed to a news briefing.

The IFRC said four countries were suffering particularly badly, with 725,000 
people in Lesotho - about 40 per cent of the country's population - hit by 
the crisis.

Nearly 2 million were at risk in Malawi, more than 1.8 million in Angola, 
and 1.6 million in rural areas of Zimbabwe. In all four, rates of child 
malnutrition were soaring, reaching 50 percent more than last year in some 
areas.

An additional complication, Matheou said, was the prevalence of HIV across 
southern Africa.

Some 34 percent of people around the world carrying the disease live in the 
region, and 23.2 percent of Lesotho's population were infected, the globe's 
third highest rate among adults, the IFRC official said.

The organisation said lack of food can undermine efforts to counter the 
spread of HIV, because the sickening effect that the anti-retroviral 
treatment has on an empty stomach deters many sufferers from taking it.

“There needs to be a large-scale, well-funded, coordinated effort between 
governments, businesses and humanitarian and development agencies to 
alleviate immediate suffering and support people to build economically 
viable lives,” said Matheou.

An appeal to donors in October for 1 119 000 Swiss francs ($1.2 million) to 
fund IFRC programmes in Lesotho had so far brought in only 17 percent. 
Another for Angola for 1 562 562 Swiss francs had been only 4 percent met.

Appeals for Malawi and Zimbabwe in October and December had had a better 
response with 57 percent of the total sought for Malawi, 1 025 310 Swiss 
francs, and 33 percent of the 1,290,342 Swiss francs sought for Zimbabwe now 
received. - Reuters 

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