World Vision, UK, reports:
A total of three million people, mostly children and women are under serious threat of malnutrition due to the current severe food shortages.
A survey by UNICEF has shown that already 600,000 children are in need of supplementary feeding. An average 18 per cent of them are underweight.
The survey was undertaken in May and found out that more than half of the six million Zimbabweans, or 66 per cent of the country's population facing starvation were children and women.
Southern Africa is currently facing a crisis of biblical proportions. Not only is the region suffering the worst HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world, but by September it is estimated that 13 million people are also going to be facing starvation. Many of those millions already are.
What has been described as the worst food shortage in over a decade has already begun to bite. Children are already suffering from severe malnutrition and all too often families have to watch their sons or daughters die.
People have been forced to consume a large amount of their harvest much too early leaving them nothing to eat in three months’ time. They will be completely reliant on food provided by aid agencies.
To make things worse, many of struggling to feed themselves are also suffering the effects of HIV/AIDS.
In Zimbabwe, one in four adults has HIV, in Zambia it’s one in five and in Malawi one in six.
A staggering three million children in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe have been orphaned by AIDS.
The reasons for this scarcity of food across southern Africa are varied and complex. They include drought, flooding, livestock diseases, government policies, civil disorder, poor farming methods, overpopulation, HIV/AIDS and the selling off of grain reserves.
World Vision is helping to tackle this humanitarian crisis in a number of ways. Firstly it is providing money to buy food to feed those most at risk.
Thanks to contributions from the European Union and our supporters, the UK office alone has been able to commit more than 2m to one of the worst hit countries, Malawi, over the next five years.
This will not only buy food aid, but also equip families to produce food crops that they can harvest in the future.
World Vision will also be approaching the UK Government for funds to tackle the problem of food shortages that is threatening to engulf many of the countries in southern Africa including Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho.
Currently, World Vision’s projects in these countries are largely unaffected by the shortages. Families are being supplied with the food they need.
However, the more serious the crisis becomes, the more money will be needed to bring food aid to other hungry families.
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