Re-engaging with the crisis in southern Africa
Triggered by erratic rainfall and a relatively modest fall in food production, the region's crisis is compounded by chronic poverty, poor governance, and most devastatingly, AIDS.
According to the Human Poverty Index (HPI) list of 95 developing countries, at 91, Zimbabwe is the poorest Southern African country ? 2.3 million are currently in need of food aid in rural areas alone. Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Malawi also feature in the HPI's bottom 20. Recent assessments reveal that in Lesotho, 948,310 people will experience income and food deficits through March 2005. In Malawi, an estimated 1.7 million people will experience a food deficit between June this year and the next harvest in April/May 2005. In Zambia, despite significant improvements in production this year, about 187,000 people recovering from a succession of floods and drought combined with the impact of HIV/AIDS are in need. HIV prevalence rates continue to rise with destructive consequences in both Swaziland and South Africa.
"The figures only give a partial picture of just how serious the humanitarian situation is," says Rein Paulsen, World Vision SAFER Manager. "While parts of the sub-region did experience something of a recovery during the last agricultural season, that recovery remains very fragile and hides the fact that other parts of the sub-region are experiencing a situation that is worse now than at any time during the crisis."
World Vision's Southern Africa Food Emergency Response (SAFER) unit is running relief, recovery and development programs in the region. Since September 2002, World Vision, with the support of a variety of UN agencies and other private donors, has reached several million beneficiaries in Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Support to these beneficiaries has been provided in the form of food aid to the most vulnerable, such as HIV/AIDS affected households, orphans, child-headed households, and the elderly; as well as agricultural recovery, health and nutrition, and water and sanitation interventions.
A key part of World Vision's relief response has been the innovative Consortium for Southern Africa Food Security Emergency (C-SAFE). A grouping of 11 NGOs led by World Vision, CARE and Catholic Relief Services, C-SAFE applies a 'developmental relief' approach to the crisis in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.
With new crises emerging constantly, serving vulnerable populations in southern Africa remains a priority for World Vision and continues to be the biggest response in World Vision's history. "As much as other crises in Africa and other parts of the world need attention, it would be a catastrophe if support for meeting the critical needs of southern Africa disappeared," says Rein Paulsen.
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