The UN World Food Program says it is deeply concerned over erratic weather patterns in southern Africa. It warns it could result in another year of widespread food shortages.
Michael Huggins is the WFP’s spokesperson for southern Africa. From Johannesburg, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the weather patterns, which have caused floods in some areas and droughts in others.
“Every year at this time, the World Food Program takes a very close look at what the growing season has produced in southern Africa. It’s a forewarning if you like for what we can expect for the year ahead in terms of the number of people who might need food assistance. It’s too early already to be able to tell how many people we would need to feed over the next year. But most certainly the crop outlook would lead us to believe that there are going to be many people in this region that are not going to be able to make their food entitlements last through to the next harvest,” he says.
With the erratic weather patterns comes erratic food production. Huggins says, “It’s another year for southern Africa where there are great disparities between countries that have been able to produce food and those that have not been able to produce food. Just a few short years ago Malawi was not able to produce enough food to feed itself. Now, it’s in its second year of bumper crop. Zambia seems to be up and down, a bit like a yo-yo, but in general, they do produce enough to feed themselves. Just unfortunately many people on the lower socio-economic level are not able to grow enough to last…all the way through to the following year.”
The WFP says South Africa, a major maize producer, is “facing poor harvest prospects due to recent weeks of extreme heat and drought in some parts of the country.” It also says drought could bring Swaziland its worst agricultural year since 1992.