UN: El Niño threatens food security for millions in southern Africa

The two-year drought has resulted in depleted food stocks largely due to poor or failed harvests across the SADC region.

 Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – The United Nations is warning that more than 13 million people in southern Africa will face food insecurity and other long term problems - due the current peak of the El Niño phenomenon.

El Niño coordinator for southern Africa Timo Pakkala says after the committee’s international appeal for funding in June, they have received only half of the amount needed to provide humanitarian assistance where it’s needed most.

Pakkala says the two-year drought has resulted in depleted food stocks largely due to poor or failed harvests across the Southern African Development Community region.

He says the impact on these countries include a lack of water security and sanitation, a decline in health, as well as chronic malnutrition – particularly affecting children.

“So now we are reaching the peak of the season, before the next harvest which is March – April in most parts of southern Africa. We are looking at at least 13,8 million people in southern Africa who urgently require humanitarian assistance.”

Although South Africa is among the least affected, Pakkala says the country’s government is playing its role in offering aid.

(Edited by Masechaba Sefularo)