Eastern and Southern Africa Experiencing Worst Drought in Half a Century
By admin April 14, 2016


While headlines focus on the US presidential race, terrorism, the refugee crisis and wars across the Middle East, several countries in Southern and Eastern Africa have been experiencing their worst drought in over fifty-years, largely due to weather patterns resulting from last year’s El Niño. Many are experiencing extreme conditions of food scarcity as a result, affecting about 36 million people in the region.

Malawi has declared a state of emergency. Over 10 million are in critical food need in Ethiopia. Thirty to forty percent of South Africa’s corn crops have failed this year. Mozambique has issued a red alert, its highest state of disaster alert.

While the economies of African nations have generally improved since the droughts at the end of last century, international aid is still needed. In Zimbabwe, nearly a third of the population is in need of food aid. UNICEF, for example, has only received 15 percent of the funds it has requested for the alleviation of the drought.

Experts say that climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of these natural disasters in the region, where much of the population is vulnerable and lives off the land.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth assessment report states that earth’s temperature is rising beyond a reasonable doubt and that there is 95% scientific certainty that it is predominantly due to human activity. Although El Niño is a cyclical phenomenon that affects weather, surface temperatures and rainfall patterns are changing across Africa due to climate change, creating more extremes.

The report states:

Climate change impacts across these areas of concern will increase risks of food insecurity and the breakdown of food systems, increase risks of loss of rural livelihoods and income due to insufficient access to drinking and irrigation water and reduced agricultural productivity, particularly for farmers and pastoralists with minimal capital in semi-arid regions. Risks due to extreme weather events leading to breakdown of infrastructure networks and critical services such as electricity, water supply, and health and emergency services are also linked to these areas of concern.

Although extreme weather may be inevitable in the future, taking action now to mitigate the effects of climate change can lessen the impact on vulnerable populations. For now, though, the international community must work together to address the current situation.


For more information:

Malawi declares state of emergency over drought

Why is nobody talking about Africa’s drought?

Mozambique issues red alert for drought stricken areas

Devastating drought threatens to unravel economic growth in Africa

Severe drought leaves millions relying on emergency aid

The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report


Thanks for sharing !

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