News / Africa

Red Cross: Millions Facing Food Crisis in Southern Africa

Lisa Schlein
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reports that more than 6 million people in the southern African countries of Angola, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Malawi are facing severe food shortages.

People in Southern Africa are in the midst of the so-called lean season, which starts at the end of January and lasts until the end of March. It is a period, just before the next harvest in April, when food stocks are at their lowest.

International Red Cross Federation spokeswoman Jessica Sallabank said millions of people across the region are going hungry because food is in such short supply.  

“Signs of malnutrition, such as weakness, emaciation, muscle wasting, distended bellies in children - all these kinds of things have been reported," she said. "People for the most part seem to be surviving on maize-meal porridge and wild berries. They never know from day to day, though, if they will get any food.”

Sallabank noted that heavy rains, lack of clean water and bad sanitation are putting people at risk of cholera, diarrhea and malaria.

Southern Africa is prone to recurring cycles of severe drought and flooding.  

The Red Cross reports nearly 2 million people in Malawi are affected by food shortages, and many children are seen begging for food. In Angola, it says more than one third of the 1.8-million people at risk are children.

Southern Africa is the most heavily HIV affected region in the world. Figures from 2009 show 34 percent of people living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, reside in 10 Southern African countries.  

Sallabank said people with HIV have a weak immune system and the food crisis is just adding to their misery.

“Very often if they are taking anti-retroviral treatments are unable to keep the food down because it makes them nauseous. So, even without a food crisis, these people are already very weak and malnourished," said Sallabank. "Because people are so hungry and times are so difficult, we are hearing there has been an increase in young girls and women, who are often in single-parent households, who are going into prostitution. And we are hearing stories of trading food for sex and all those kinds of things, which obviously can contribute to the HIV problem.”

The Red Cross says once this phase of emergency assistance is over, the agency says it is planning to help people become more resilient so they can better survive these recurrent cycles of drought and flood.

The Red Cross says it will provide seeds, tools and fertilizer to help people plant their next crop. But as part of its long-term planning, it says it aims to promote the sustainable use of land and water resources by developing renewable-energy technologies, improving irrigation systems and introducing drought-tolerant crops.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Luke
March 04, 2013 11:17 PM
Jessica, with regard to Zimbabwe and the land seizures, it was this very fact that led to the erosion and collapse of agricultural production which also resulted in unemployment. Examine the production statistics prior to independence and then compare.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid