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Sun Dec 04 18:15:12 SAST 2016

El Nino wreaks havoc in southern Africa, forcing families to skip meals, sell off assets

Agency staff | 2016-02-19 13:15:22.0
A Malawian trader counts money as he sells maize near the capital Lilongwe, Malawi February 1, 2016.
Image by: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS

At least one million children have been left in the grips of severe malnutrition, as one of the most powerful El Nino events in 50 years continues to wreak havoc across southern Africa.

A state of disaster has been declared in Lesotho, Zimbabwe and most of South Africa, as resource shortages mount, with most families being forced to skip meals and sell off assets in a bid to cope.

Many of the continent's most vulnerable children reside in the tiny landlocked nation of Lesotho, where 34% of children are reported to be orphans, with a further 57% of the population living below the poverty line, Unicef statistics show.

Scorching temperatures, combined with El Nino's hot, dry conditions, have formed a lethal cocktail along the southern belt of Africa, causing widespread drought and crop failure.

Yolanda Dasgupta, a humanitarian co-ordinator for the United Nations (UN), expressed concern for those at risk of starvation, saying that most people will not have enough to eat until 2017.

As grain supplies runs out and food prices rise, many schools have been put under strain, with some having to shut down their feeding schemes.

Lesotho requires a minimum of $27 million to feed citizens who remain on the brink of starvation, CBS News reported.

Already-stretched donors have yet to assist the country due to attention being aimed at various other global crises.

Source: News24

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