Southern African economic bloc seeks $2.7bn for drought relief

Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, have declared national drought emergencies.

A file picture showing a 13-year-old Prince Mpofu packing last years harvest from the irrigated gardens for storage in the village of Nsezi in Matabeleland, southwestern Zimbabwe. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG The Southern African economic bloc said it would appeal for $2.7 billion from the international community to help more than 23 million people in urgent need because of a blistering drought.

Ian Khama, chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), who is also president of Botswana, will this month declare a regional disaster, SADC said in a statement released on Monday.

Five member states, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, have declared national drought emergencies.

South Africa has declared a drought emergency in eight of the countrys nine provinces, while Mozambique has declared a 90-day institutional red alert for some southern and central areas.

The appeal will be a formal request to the international community to provide assistance to affected member states, the SADC said.

Southern Africa has been hard hit over the past year by an El Nio-inspired drought that has wilted crops, slowed economic growth and driven food prices higher.