Climate change and COVID-19 have amplified food insecurity in Southern Africa, report
According to World Food Program officials, about 45 million people in Southern Africa are facing food insecurity and the worst affected country is Zimbabwe.
The WFP estimates that in Zimbabwe alone the number of people facing food insecurity will reach 8.6 million by the end of this year. The organization also estimates that the current level of food insecurity has not been seen for many years.
The WFP states that the problem has been aggravated by global warming which has triggered an increase in natural disasters such as droughts, floods, and cyclones on the one hand and the lockdowns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in a rise in unemployment on the other.
Farmers and women are amongst the groups that have been particularly affected by COVID-19 which has obviously had a negative impact on food security. Over the past four years, Southern African farmers have been relentlessly challenged by the side effects of climate change. The main problem has been the lack of access to water but now the pandemic is also contributing to farmers’ problems because it has significantly limited sales due to the closure of local marketplaces.
Oxfam International estimates that over 17 million people in Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa are affected by food insecurity as a result of the drought that occurred in 2019. Moreover, about 40% of the population of Southern African lives in deep poverty.
Zambia, a regional leader in terms of food production, is suffering due to climate change and has recently been affected by massive floods that destroyed crops whilst also dealing with the highest debt in the region caused by the pandemic. About 2 million Zambians are malnourished and suffer diseases brought about by famine.
The Republic of South Africa, the most developed country in region, has also been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of food insecurity. According to research conducted by South African scientists two out of five adults indicated that they had lost their main source of income as a result of the lockdown. About 21% of interviewees reported that at least one inhabitant of their household had gone hungry in the last seven days and 15% of them admitted that a child in their household had gone hungry in the same period.
The latest report issued by the U.S. based humanitarian aid organization, CARE, indicates that the number of people who will have been affected by food crisis will double to 270 million by the end of this year. In Latin America the number of people suffering food insecurity has tripled whilst in Western and Central Africa it has doubled and in Southern Africa it has increased by a massive 90% with the increases being caused mainly by COVID-19. In turn, the United Nations World Food Program estimates that the pandemic will possibly double the number of people suffering from hunger globally by the end of this year, i.e. a quarter of billion.