El Nino-hit Southern Africa launches $5.5BN humanitarian appeal

Pain in the fields: Droughts have become more frequent and harmful as climate change tightens its grip PIC PHATSIMO KAPENG
Pain in the fields: Droughts have become more frequent and harmful as climate change tightens its grip PIC PHATSIMO KAPENG

SADC today launched a $5.5 billion (P74.4bn) global appeal for humanitarian assistance after the El Nino weather phenomenon caused the worst drought in decades across the region.

In a communique issued after eight Southern African Development Community heads of state met virtually, the regional organisation noted that El Nino had caused drought and floods across Southern Africa affecting 61 million people.

The last time SADC appealed for humanitarian assistance following El Nino was in 2016, through a $2.7 billion (P29.6bn at 2016 rates) request.

At a virtual heads of state Summit attended by President Mokgweetsi Masisi and chaired by Angolan president, João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, the SADC leaders said the US$5.5 billion was aimed at augmenting domestic resources of the affected member states. This includes efforts for resource mobilisation from national, regional, and international partners in response to the impacts of El Niño induced drought and floods.

“Summit noted the multifaceted and cascading impact of the El Niño induced drought and floods across multiple sectors, including Agriculture and Livelihood Security, Food Security, Nutrition, Health, Water and Energy, and called for coordinated, integrated, and harmonised interventions to address the adverse impact of El Niño,” the communique reads.

The heads of state said an addendum to the appeal would be issued in August 2024 to reflect the change in humanitarian needs as more member states finalise their in-depth assessments on the impact of El Nino induced drought and floods.

Already, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has pledged $33 million to SADC’s appeal, while the Food and Agriculture Organisation has pledged a further $10 million.

“Summit urged other member states and International Cooperating Partners to express solidarity with, and support member states that have been affected by national disasters. “Summit urged SADC member states with surplus cereal to prioritise exports to other SADC member states with deficits,” the communique reads.

Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have already declared states of national disaster because of crop failures, while locally, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development is finalising a countrywide assessment.

El Nino is due to transition to a wetter La Nina later this year, easing the prospects of droughts in the coming cropping season. However, with La Nina associated with above average rainfall in summer, the SADC heads of states said they would strengthen anticipatory action programmes to mitigate climate risks.

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