Severe drought in southern Africa

AN international wire agency has drawn attention towards unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in southern African countries where the worst drought in decades is affecting millions of people, stunting children and tempting some farmers to eat their grains instead of saving them as seed for the next crop. The region’s most severe drought in 35 years is also a growing health crisis, as one-third of the world’s HIV-infected population lives in these countries and the UN says people cannot take their treatment on an empty stomach.
Experts say in southern Africa, the drought caused by El Niño was expected, but it has been even more severe than feared, with rains failing two years in a row. Overall nearly 16 million people in southern Africa are already going hungry, and that number could rise fast. According to World Food Programme, more than 40 million rural and 9 million poor urban people are at risk due to the impacts of El Nin~o’s related drought and erratic rainfall. The emerging situation could spell havoc with the region and the days are not far off when one would see pictures of vultures waiting for the children to die. Of course, one cannot do much to prevent the natural disaster befalling the poor people in seven countries (Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe) but surely the world can save precious lives. It is time for the United Nations to go for emergency assessment of the situation and respond to the situation. There is no point in launching relief operations once the damage has been done and people are forced to die for want of food and medicines. Therefore, the wealthy nations, philanthropists and NGOs should come to the rescue of these countries by providing emergency food and medicines in required quantities.

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