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Southern Africa's water resources depleting at an alarming rate

The ongoing drought has already been declared a national disaster in Zimbabwe.

A young boy fills his cup from a water tanker in Coronation, Johannesburg, as South Africa faces water shortages due to drought. Picture: EPA/Kim Ludbrook

JOHANNESBURG - AgriSA has warned that water resources across Southern Africa are being depleted at an alarming rate due to the ongoing drought, which has been declared a national disaster in Zimbabwe.

AgriSA says food production and supply has reached critical levels in countries including Malawi.

There are also serious concerns about potential food shortages this winter.

Agri SA wants the government to declare the drought a national disaster to free up additional funds for relief.

AgriSA CEO Omri van Zyl says livestock are dying and a stable water supply is at risk.

"We are looking at livestock losses at a very severe extent and obviously it is being exasperated by the current El Nino heatwave that we are getting. This is depleting water resources across Southern Africa."

AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS APPEAL FOP HELP

African governments are requesting billions of dollars in aid as the unusually dry period ruins farmland, kills cattle and cuts off water supplies.

On the continent, it is expected to hit 49 million people from Malawi to Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, leaving about 14 million going hungry, the UN World Food Programme says.

South Africa, home to Africa's most developed economy and a key source of food for the wider region, is suffering its worst drought in a century, likely to push 50,000 people below the poverty line, the World Bank estimates.

South Africa's dams have dropped 16 percent since October and are expected to take three years to recover.

The dry, hot conditions risk hurting the region's vital tourism industry as lush safari parks are scorched brown, mighty rivers like the Zambezi are diminished and even Victoria Falls loses some of its marvel.

Additional reporting by Reuters.