Africa drought fears grip Malawi and Mozambique

Women carry water in drought-stricken Mozambique Image copyright EPA
Image caption Swathes of southern Africa are facing food shortages

Food shortage fears over a drought in southern Africa have prompted Malawi to declare a state of national disaster and Mozambique to issue a "red alert".

The President of Malawi, Peter Mutharika, warned in a statement some people needed aid for all of this year.

Mozambique raised alert levels for southern and central regions.

Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Zambia are also suffering food shortages, while South Africa says its drought is the worst in a century.

Over 10 million people across the region will need food aid in the coming year, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

Malawi has suffered both flash floods and drought recently, hitting the staple maize crop.

"It is very clear that we have [a] food shortage in the country which will affect a considerable number of our fellow citizens," Mr Mutharika said.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Three million people are currently receiving food aid in Malawi, according to the World Food Programme
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption South Africa says its drought is the worst in a century

The WFP's David Orr told AFP news agency the worst was still to come.

"It will take a long time before the situations improves," he said. "Any improvement in the next months would be negligible."

Malawi is considered the worst affected among several counties in a struggling region:

  • In Zimbabwe, more than a quarter of the rural population - about 2.8 million people - do not have enough to eat
  • South Africa, normally an exporter, has had to import grain to cover its needs
  • Food prices in Zambia have sharply risen while low water levels at the Kariba dam have hit hydro-electric energy production

An unusually strong El Nino weather phenomenon has been blamed for the drought, as well as extreme weather in countries across the globe.

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