- The numbers of Basotho requiring food aid is heavily inflated by another "total crop failure" in the mountain Kingdom's most fertile areas. The drought is reported to be going on.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), "the ongoing drought in the lowlands and foothills" of Lesotho has now resulted in a "total failure of winter crops and vastly reduced summer crop yields."
Basotho farmers thus face yet another season of high food insecurity and many will be depending on food aid. WFP, in its weekly 'Emergency Report', confirms that the UN agency now will have to increase its presence in Lesotho.
- While previous beneficiary numbers were envisaged for a planned average of 375,000 people, heightened vulnerability and increased food insecurity indicate that around 600,000 people will require food aid, WFP today estimated.
In the week from 14 to 20 January, WFP had distributed 308 metric tons of food to 25,747 beneficiaries through supplementary feeding programmes in health clinics and other targeted vulnerable group feeding projects. Now, the agency is preparing for far larger distributions.
Recent regional rainfall in Southern Africa had brought temporary relief following a prolonged dry period in the region. However, rains failed during the start of the agricultural season in November and December, and it now may be too late to plant additional crops. Worst hit by the drought are areas of South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland and parts of Mozambique, according to WFP.
Also in neighbouring South Africa, the gravity of the situation was highlighted last week when President Thabo Mbeki declared parts of six of South Africa's nine provinces disaster areas. The proclamation will allow the government to appropriate additional funds for emergency relief. The provinces affected are KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, the North West, Free State and the Northern Cape. A seventh province, Limpopo, was already declared a disaster area in October 2003.
At present, four million South Africans in rural areas are receiving emergency water from trucks. The Government has also begun to distribute food in the worst affected provinces. Food shortages are likely to be exacerbated further if the price of maize meal, a staple crop, continues to rise. The drought is reported to be the worst to affect South Africa in almost a century.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.