Malawi + 2 more

CAFOD warns of looming food crisis in Southern Africa

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The Catholic aid agency CAFOD fears millions of people are at risk as severe food shortages continue to grip Southern Africa.
Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe are the countries that have been worst affected by the shortages caused by three years of drought.

In Malawi, hundreds of people have died of starvation and 300,000 people are receiving food aid. It's estimated that between three and four million people could be facing famine by the end of the year.

Dr Nicholas Mkwapata, National Director of Caritas Malawi, said: "The situation is very bad. There is a hunger crisis. Many people are starving. The situation will deteriorate because people have been so hungry they been eating unripe maize, which means the next harvest will be very poor.

"Seventy per cent of the population have no food supplies. They're hungry now, but will be starving later. Malawi needs extra food. There is a huge shortfall in our productions. The international community must step in."

Tim Aldred from CAFOD's emergency response team said: "We are monitoring the situation very closely. The shortages are likely to get much worse later in the year when the current harvest starts running out. We need to be planning a response now as food aid can take months to organise."

In Zambia the picture is much the same as in Malawi. Food prices have rocketed as the shortages have increased. Dr Mara Rossi, HIV Coordinator of Ndola Diocese says vulnerable groups have been especially badly hit.

"Zambia has been badly affected by a shortage of maize and prices have doubled. This has affected our HIV programs very badly. Before we could feed 5000 people living in the community with HIV but now we are struggling because it is very expensive for us to buy maize for the people we help. Things are serious for people with HIV as many are already too weak to work and have no money to buy food. They are very vulnerable. If the high food prices continue then we will soon run out of money, and the people will starve," said Dr. Rossi.

CAFOD has already provided =A350,000 in immediate aid. It's being used to provide emergency food supplies to about 78,000 households and to replace the seeds for winter planting which are now being used as food.

For more information contact Martha Clarke on 0207 326 5557 or 0777 9804254 m. or mclarke@cafod.org.uk