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The hunger crisis no one is talking about

Gideon Heugh | 23 Jan 2020

  Gideon Heugh

Back in October, Tearfund and other agencies warned of a looming hunger crisis in southern Africa. The situation is getting worse, and an unprecedented number of people are now at risk.

What’s going on?
Approximately 45 million people across 16 countries in southern Africa are facing severe food shortages. Some of the hardest-hit countries are Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi. In many areas more than half the population are surviving on one meal a day. Mass unemployment in cities and inflation are making the situation worse. Pregnant women, new mothers, children, the elderly and people with disabilities are especially vulnerable.

Why has this happened?
The region has been hit by a devastating combination of extreme weather events and political and economic instability. Parts of the region are facing the worst drought in 35 years, while in other areas there is widespread flooding. People are still reeling from the devastation caused by cyclones Idai and Kenneth last year, in which more than a thousand people died and half a million people were left homeless.

Is climate change to blame for the weather?
Almost certainly. While it is difficult to attribute particular extreme weather events to climate change, it definitely makes such events more likely. The region is seeing more frequent and longer lasting droughts, as well as stronger storms than it is used to. According to the UN, southern Africa’s temperatures are rising at twice the global average.

What’s the outlook?
A lot depends on the weather over the coming months. We are now entering into the peak of the cyclone season, and any repeat of the damage caused by last year’s cyclones would be catastrophic.

What is Tearfund doing?
Tearfund currently operates in six countries in the region: Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. We’re working to meet people’s immediate needs, as well as looking to the long term by helping farmers and communities become more resilient to climate change. In the aftermath of last year’s cyclones, we’ve been distributing food, cooking utensils and shelter, along with seeds to replant crops. We’re continuing to work with our network of local partners to assess the situation and reach out to the most vulnerable.

What can I do to help?
Pray. We have included specific prayer points for you to use individually or in your church below. If you feel led to give, please consider a donation to our disaster relief fund, which will help us respond to disasters like this around the world.


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