More than 36 million people face hunger across southern and eastern Africa, the United Nations has warned, as swaths of the continent grapple with the worst drought in decades at a time of record high temperatures.
The immediate cause of the drought which has crippled countries from Ethiopia to Zimbabwe is one of the strongest El Niño events ever recorded. It has turned normal weather patterns upside down around the globe, according to climate scientists.
But with the world still reeling from record-high temperatures in February, there are fears that the long-term impacts of climate change are also undermining the region’s ability to endure extremes in weather, leaving huge numbers of people vulnerable to hunger and disease.
The worst hit country in the current crisis is Ethiopia, where rains vital to four-fifths of the country’s crops have failed. UNICEF has said it is making plans to treat more than 2 million children for malnutrition, and says more than 10 million people will need food aid.
The crisis has been damaging even to Ethiopians not at immediate risk of going hungry. It has truncated the education of 3.9 million children and teenagers, who “are unable to access quality education opportunities because of the drought.
Neighbouring countries grappling with hunger after crops failed include Somalia, Sudan and Kenya, and altogether the failed rains have left more than 20 million people “food insecure” in the region.
Source: The Guardian UK