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Six million hungry in southern Africa
March 4 2013 at 05:56pm
File image - A malnourished child lies in his bed at a feeding centre.
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
“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
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
An additional complication, Matheou said, was the prevalence of HIV across
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