International

Zambia on the brink of famine

A new BBC report on Zambia, published Friday, has said that parts of southern African country are now only one step away from famine.

“Zambia is wrestling with a devastating drought caused, according to experts, by a dramatic shift in weather patterns.

“Temperatures in parts of Southern Africa are expected to rise by twice the global average as a result of climate change, and the UN is calling for urgent action.

“In Zambia, more than 2m people are now in need of food aid, following two years of poor rains and failed harvests,” according to the BBC report.

The report highlights that climate change has resulted in a devastating two-year drought situation and for the first time in 15 years the World Food Programme (WFP) has started distributing food relief to some of the worst-hit areas.

According to the WFP, the 2018/2019 farming season in the southern half of Zambia experienced drought conditions that have resulted in significant crop losses and poor harvests. An estimated 2.3 million people, representing 25 per cent of the rural population, are now in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.

Zambia is a country with 17.1 million people. In spite of earlier positive economic growth figures and relative political stability over the years, poverty levels have remained high with over half of the population living below the poverty line.  The Zambian Government is experiencing serious fiscal challenges and rising debt burden.

However, it is not just Zambia.

Zimbabwe, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central Sahel region have also been identified by WFP when it comes to hungry children, women and men.

“WFP is fighting big and complex humanitarian battles on several fronts at the start of 2020,” said David Beasley, Executive Director of WFP. “In some countries, we are seeing conflict and instability combine with climate extremes to force people from their homes, farms and places of work. In others, climate shocks are occurring alongside economic collapse and leaving millions on the brink of destitution and hunger.”

The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation.