Millions face food shortages in Southern AfricaListen /
More than 3.5 million people in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Lesotho are faced with severe food shortages over the next four months, according to the UN World Food Programme – WFP.
A combination of drought and flooding which caused widespread crop damage has led to localized food shortages, and the situation is expected to worsen during the so called hunger season that traditionally lasts from December until harvest time in March.
WFP says in Malawi nearly 2 million people mainly in the southern parts of the country require food assistance while in Zimbabwe cereal production is down by nearly a third leaving one in five people in rural areas facing food shortages.
In Lesotho, some 230,000 people will need food assistance.
Elisabeth Byrs of WFP says the food crisis has been made worse by escalating prices of staple foods such as maize.
"In Malawi, WFP has launched a mobile cash transfer programme for more 100,000 people, and this programme will provide with cash to purchase food on local markets. In Zimbabwe 1.6 million people will require food assistance during this peak hunger season. This is a 60 per cent increase from the one million people assisted last year that’s why the situation is of concern."
WFP is appealing for 16 million dollars to finance the emergency food operation in the three countries.
Patrick Maigua United Nations Radio Geneva.