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CARE Spokesman says Long-Term Reforms Needed to End Hunger in Southern Africa

Around 12 million people are facing a severe food crisis in southern Africa. Experts say it’s the result of a triple threat: the spread of HIV/AIDS, the lack of rains and the inability of governments to respond.

A new report by the humanitarian agency CARE says the situation is bound to get worse in the long term unless new and urgent measures are put in place.

Kenneth Walker is the Africa press officer for CARE International. From Johannesburg, he told English to Africa’s Ruby Ofori what his organization thinks needs to be done – and why the next few months are likely to be worst for the drought-afflicted communities of southern Africa.

According to Mr. Walker, “This precise time -- from January to April -- is the most critical time because a harvest begins in April and this is...[the end of ]whatever stores there may have been from the last harvest and people need food critically about now -- and will for the next four months. It’s called the hunger season.”

Mr. Walker said Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia are the worst affected areas. Lesotho and Mozambique have some food security issues, but are not nearly as severe so far.

He said the situation will worsen in the long term unless the triple threat is addressed: "There are a number of things that could be done [to help people get food immediately and to put them on a more sustainable path in terms of livelihood]: Increasing health care, for example, for HIV/AIDS; strengthening the capacity of NGO’s and governments to address .. health issues; and [farming improvements in irrigation] and extension training that can introduce some more productive kinds of crops."