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“El Niño-Induced drought wreaks havoc”

 … ActionAid call for action to Save Devastated Fishing Communities in Southern Africa Region

By Francis Maingaila

Lusaka, Zambia, May 24, 2024 РThe El Ni̱o-induced drought has wreaked havoc, putting over 20 million people in Southern Africa at risk of severe food insecurity, requiring immediate humanitarian aid.

According to a statement jointly signed by Esther Sharara, Regional Humanitarian Advisor for Southern Africa, Joy Mabenge, Country Director at ActionAid Zimbabwe, and Jovina Newanzake, Interim Country Director at ActionAid Zambia, the cost of living continues to rise in the region. The drought-induced food insecurity is pushing communities deeper into poverty and hunger.

“This crisis, which affects crop yields, livestock, and water availability, poses a significant threat to the well-being of millions across the region, especially vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women, and the elderly,” reads the statement.

The statement indicated that on April 3, 2024, Zimbabwe declared the drought a state of disaster, joining Zambia and Malawi in seeking urgent assistance to address the impending hunger crisis.

“Zimbabwe, with a plea for $2 billion in aid, highlights the severity of the situation and the pressing need for immediate action,” reads the statement.

The trio urgently calls for a humanitarian response to prevent a full-blown catastrophe and provide hope for a brighter future for those affected by this devastating drought.

As such, ActionAid, a leading humanitarian organization, is calling for immediate intervention to mitigate the crisis.

Esther Sharara, ActionAid’s Regional Humanitarian Advisor in Southern Africa, emphasizes the critical need for coordinated efforts to ensure timely humanitarian assistance reaches those most in need.

The impact of the drought extends beyond agricultural losses, affecting local fishing communities as well.

Reduced water levels in fishing areas have significantly depleted fish populations, making it increasingly challenging for fishers to support their families and livelihoods.

In Sesheke District, Zambia, where ActionAid supports fisherwomen, the situation is particularly dire.

The Zambezi River, a lifeline for these communities, has witnessed a sharp decline in fish output due to the drought, aggravating poverty and uncertainty among residents.

Juliet Kamwi, a local fisherwoman, reflects the sentiments of many in her community, lamenting the disappearance of fish from the river and the profound impact it has had on their way of life.

The loss of this vital resource threatens not only food security but also the economic stability of these communities.

Jovina Nawenzake, Interim Executive Director at ActionAid Zambia, emphasizes the need for both immediate relief efforts and long-term solutions to safeguard the livelihoods of fishing communities.

While emergency food assistance is crucial, sustainable interventions are needed to ensure the resilience of these vulnerable populations in the face of future crises.

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