Food security crisis in southern Africa after drought

Millions still at risk of starvation into 2017 as consequences of severe El Nino are still felt.

Cow grazes in the dry area of the decommissioned Upper Ncema Dam
A cow grazes in the dry area of the decommissioned Upper Ncema Dam, Zimbabwe [AFP]

Southern Africa is still recovering from the devastating effects brought on by a two-year-long El Nino event that ended in early 2016.

El Nino is known for its widespread effect across the globe resulting in drought, flooding and other natural disasters. But the 2014-2016 event was considered one of worst, ranked as one of the top three strongest since 1950.

Areas across southern Africa were hit particularly hard by the global anomaly. Many of those countries saw temperatures rise well above average with some of the driest condition in more than 30 years.

El Nino explained in one minute

The United Nations has recently warned that 14 million people are at risk of starvation across the region as it continues to face widespread water shortages as well as reduced crop and livestock production.

David Orr of the World Food Programme said: “We have an extremely large food security crisis in southern Africa at the moment, as a result of a couple of years of drought, and in some cases failed harvests. So there are millions and millions of people across this region who do not have enough to eat at the moment.”

Much of southern Africa is now in planting season and experiencing drought relief as the weather pattern has shifted to a La Nino cycle, which helps to bring in more rain across some regions.

The long-term forecast suggests that in 2017 much of the region will regain most of its lost grain crop, but it is expected to take another two or more years to return livestock production to normal levels.

Extreme weather conditions such as El Nino are forecast to become more frequent as global warming is expected to intensify in the future. The UN says that Africa is the most vulnerable region to climate change and lacks proper early warning systems and contingency plans for such disasters.

Source: Al Jazeera