• Full impact of El Nino induced drought “continue to deepen”
  • World Food Programme says $636 million needed for response

The effects of a drought ravaging southern Africa is worsening and the number of people relying on food aid will double to 14.1 million by the end of the year, according to the United Nations World Food Programme.

Currently some 7.5 million people in Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe require assistance to feed themselves, the WFP said in an e-mailed statement Friday. The WFP is stepping up relief efforts after a drought caused by the El Nino weather pattern wrecked harvests across the region.

Southern African countries are again experiencing high temperatures as the dry winter period recedes. South Africa, the continent’s most developed economy and not in need of food aid, experienced its lowest rainfall in more than 100 years in 2015 and little rain is expected before November, the government said Thursday.

“WFP and partners are significantly augmenting operations to reach 13.2 million people by the peak of the lean season in January 2017,” the WFP said in the statement. “As the full impacts of El Niño and other shocks continue to deepen, this target may be revised.”

Adequate emergency responses until April next year will cost $636 million, according to the WFP. So far the organization has received $113 million including donations from Japan, the U.S. the European Commission, Switzerland, Australia and Malawi, it said.

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