NAIROBI: MORE than 3,9 million people, mainly children, are at risk of starvation following severe drought spells looming across East and Southern Africa, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said. South Sudan is the hardest hit by the impending disaster emanating from El Niño weather patterns that are also threatening wildlife and environment.
UNICEF Chief Nutrition expert for South Sudan, Vilma Tyler, said both UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) had since launched a mass mobilization campaign aimed at screening more than 250 000 children for acute malnutrition in Warrap State. “Visiting every single home will help ensure that children who are malnourished or sick will be referred for treatment and will receive life-saving care,” said Tyler.
As that is not enough, the recently released Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) warned that at least 30 000 people are living in extreme conditions and face starvation and death in South Sudan. IPC singled out 237 000 children who were estimated to be suffering from severe acute malnutrition in South Sudan while in Warrap state alone, 26 000 children are thought to be acutely malnourished. Elsewhere, across the two regions of Eastern African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC), an estimated 11 million children are facing hunger, disease and water shortages.
On Tuesday, UNICEF said drought alone was causing acute food shortage while floods were exposing children to malnutrition and vulnerability to diseases such as cholera, malaria and diarrhoea. “The consequences could ripple through generations unless affected communities receive support,” UNICEF said in a statement.
Southern African countries being affected by severe drought as a result of ocean warming comprise the landlocked Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe while South Africa has announced water shortages this week. In East Africa, South Sudan and Ethiopia are the hardest hit. Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania are not spurred. UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, said the humanitarian crisis caused by El Nino would see the world governing body of the United Nations (UN) to meet in France later this month.
SOURCE: CAJ NEWS AGENCY