UN Food Agency appeals for $204m to stave off severe hunger in Southern Africa

Eighteen million people need emergency food assistance in seven countries severely affected by El Nino.

Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

PRETORIA - The United Nations Food Agencyhas declared its highest-level of emergencyin drought-stricken Southern Africa.

It isappealing for $204 million immediately to purchase food and transportit to the region to help millions of hungry people.

UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin says that 18 million people need emergency food assistance in the seven countries severely affected by El Nino: Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

She saysWFP is anticipating an escalation in needs later this year and estimates that approximately 33 million people will be impacted by El Nino and the upcoming La Nina, which could bring severe flooding.

Cousin points to a more than 150% increase in people without enough to eat in Malawi as well as a 99% increase in Swaziland and a 53% increase in Lesotho.