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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More