Malawi + 3 more

Special Report: Food shortage in Southern Africa

Situation Report
Originally published
Much of southern Africa is facing severe food shortages, the result of one of the worst droughts in a decade. As crops wither in the fields, farmers have less to sell in the markets, and the price of what is available is soaring. Even the game and wild fruits that communities rely on in times of trouble are fast disappearing. Many families have been forced to sell their livestock and other possessions to buy food. But this is only a temporary solution. Severe hunger -- even starvation -- threatens millions, particularly among the most vulnerable: children, the elderly, and pregnant and nursing women.
The crisis facing the region is exacerbated by several factors, but none loom so large as the problem of poverty. In response, CARE has been working with communities in southern Africa to address their most threatening problems, to harness the ingenuity and determination of local people to find lasting solutions to poverty.

Today, we're helping communities in the countries below (click the links for detailed reports) not only get the food they need to survive, but also work toward averting future food crises.

In Malawi, CARE has expanded our agricultural activities and is distributing extra cassava cuttings to farmers. CARE belongs to a network of community groups and organizations that has called for the government to distribute free maize to the most vulnerable people and to establish a plan to prevent future food shortages. This network has targeted 90,000 farmers through the distribution of pamphlets explaining what people can do to support members of their community. In addition, CARE is preparing for a long-term emergency response.

In Mozambique, CARE is expanding our agricultural and income-generating activities. We're preparing to distribute water cans and provide seeds for crops with staggered production cycles, which will allow a continual harvest for several months. The crops (tomato, onion, lettuce, Brussels sprouts and cabbage) grow quickly and can be watered by hand. CARE will continue introducing communities to drought-resistant crops, such as sweet potatoes and pineapples. And we're working with the government and non-governmental organizations to develop a strategy for a sustained response to the drought.

In Zambia, CARE is refocusing food distributions to hard-hit areas of Southern and Western provinces. CARE is chairing a group of government agencies and non-governmental organizations with a focus on food security, advocacy and lobbying regarding the drought and food needs. CARE has mounted the country's only comprehensive food-shortage survey, which will contribute to a larger, multi-organizational assessment of the situation in Zambia. The results will help efforts to provide food now and develop strategies for the future. CARE also is assisting agencies working in other critical regions of the country, such as Eastern province.

In Zimbabwe, CARE is continuing our ongoing supplementary feeding program for 130,000 children under the age of 14. In early April, CARE also began a general food distribution program that aims to reach more than 200,000 people. These programs can be expanded as needed.