(NEWS INVESTIGATORS) No fewer than 52 million people in 18 countries across southern, eastern and central Africa are facing up to crisis levels of hunger as a result of weather extremes, compounded by poverty and conflict.
Some areas are facing a second extreme drought in four years and worse than that sparked by El Nino in 1981.
In the South, parts of Zimbabwe have had their lowest rainfall since 1981 which has helped push more than 5.5 million people into extreme food insecurity. Zambia’s rich maize-growing area has been decimated and exports are now banned; 2.3 million people there are food insecure.
The situation is worsening including in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia and Zimbabwe. There are reports of farmer suicides in South Africa.
Drought has also hit the East and Horn of Africa particularly Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. At the same time, record-breaking temperatures in the Indian Ocean have dumped ultra-heavy rainfalls into Kenya and South Sudan, causing flash-flooding especially along major river arteries. South Sudan has declared a state of emergency with more than 900,000 people hit by floods.
In Africa extreme weather events have hit many countries already suffering from ongoing conflict. Across the continent, 7.6 million people were displaced by conflict in the first six months of 2019, and another 2.6 million by extreme weather.
In the Horn, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan have simultaneously faced over 750 000 people displaced by conflict and 350 000 displaced by extreme weather.
Scientists have demonstrated how climate change is increasing the frequency or severity of many extreme weather events.
Over the last decade, these 18 African countries have collectively suffered average annual losses of 700 million dollars from climate-related disasters– and this is without counting the cost of these latest crises, says Oxfam.
However, there has been minimal progress globally in raising funds specifically to address loss and damage from climate change. Africa contributes less than five per cent of total global emissions but is suffering some of the most severe impacts of the climate crisis.