News / Africa

Red Cross: Millions Facing Food Crisis in Southern Africa

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid