Agencies Seek $1.2 Billion Aid for Southern Africa Drought

  • About 12.3 million people in region are in need of aid
  • Only quarter of required amount has been achieved so far

Humanitarian agencies operating in southern Africa have asked donors for $1.2 billion to provide aid to 12.3 million people in seven of the region’s countries that have been most hit by the worst drought in more than three decades.

About a quarter of the funds have been received, the Regional Inter-Agency Standing Committee said in a statement e-mailed by the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA.

“We are at a critical point,” Emma Naylor-Ngugi, a regional director for the CARE agency, said in the statement. “People are being pushed to the brink, and despite efforts by national governments, more should be done for those who need help the most.”

SADC Appeal

The funds form part of about $2.7 billion that the 15-country Southern African Development Community requested earlier this month from donors, $500 million of which had been pledged by Tuesday.

The El Nino-induced drought damaged crops from palm oil, rice and sugar in Asia to grains in southern Africa and robusta coffee in South America. About 60 million people worldwide face a lack of food because of the phenomenon that has scorched harvests in some areas and caused floods in others, the UN said last week. Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe have declared national emergencies while eight of South Africa’s nine provinces have done the same.

“If we do not get the needed money, at least in the next few weeks, there will be a catastrophe," Timo Pakkala, senior El Nino coordinator for southern Africa at OCHA, told reporters and delegates at a briefing in Johannesburg.

About 23 million people in southern Africa urgently need support to produce enough food to feed themselves and avoid dependence on humanitarian assistance, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization said in a separate statement Thursday.

The FAO’s response plan ensures that seeds, fertilizers, tools and livestock are provided to smallholder farmers to cope with the drought, it said. At least $109 million is needed for this and growers must plant by October or risk having a smaller harvest in March, which will affect nutrition security, it said.

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