Food insecurity threatens 45 mln in southern Africa: UN

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UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- A record 45 million people across southern Africa will be severely food insecure in six months, a UN spokesman said on Thursday.

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the warning comes from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

"A record 45 million people across southern Africa will be severely food insecure in the next six months," he said, citing the agencies. "There are more than 11 million people now experiencing 'crisis' or 'emergency' levels of food insecurity in nine southern African countries."

Six of the nine African countries set to be hardest hit by adverse weather in the coming years are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the agencies said.

Southern Africa has experienced normal rainfall in just one of the last five growing seasons, they said. Persistent drought, back-to-back cyclones and flooding have wreaked havoc on harvests in a region overly dependent on rain-fed, smallholder agriculture.

The growing hunger crisis, affecting urban as well as rural communities, is being aggravated by rising food prices, large-scale livestock losses and mounting joblessness, the agencies said. It is also worsening levels of acute malnutrition in particularly at-risk communities.

The agencies are calling for funding to prevent a major hunger crisis and for stepped up investment in long-term measures to combat the impact of climate shocks, Haq told reporters at a regular briefing. "Southern Africa's temperatures are rising at twice the global average." Enditem

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