Several southern African countries have declared states of emergency due to a hard-hitting drought in recent months. The dire conditions have been worsened by El Niño effects, leading to failed crops, dying livestock, and a food crisis for more than 32 million people.
A new report from the UN’s World Food Programme details which African countries have been devastated by drought within the last few months. The organization estimates that this is the driest two-year period the region has seen since 1981. Lesotho, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and South Africa are among the countries which have declared some form of emergency.
Andrew Odero, a food security analyst at WFP, stated that Zimbabwe has taken an especially big hit. He explains, “The country is coming out of a very poor agricultural season with 40 percent of normal corn production. It’s already a fragile rural economy.” In February, country officials asked for both domestic and international aid totaling $1.5 billion USD to help feed those whose crops have been irreparably ravaged by the previous season’s meager harvests and the aftermath of El Niño.
There is a 50 percent chance that La Niña could affect the area in the latter half of this year, which could lead to flooding. The WFP is hard at work planning how to best help in the region and prepare for ongoing weather effects.