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Caritas Australia responds to food shortage in southern Africa

Caritas Australia has quickly answered the needs of those affected by food shortages in southern Africa, with a pledge of $40,000 in immediate aid.

Millions of people are being threatened by severe food shortages across southern Africa following two years of flooding and drought.

People in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe are all badly affected and many have resorted to eating seeds stored for next year's harvest. It is feared that this will plunge them into a cycle of food shortages, as the harvest for next year will be badly affected.

Caritas Australia National Director, Jack de Groot said that the situation in Malawi is desperate: "Presently, people are suffering in the villages because food is scarce and the little amounts of maize or flour reaching towns, villages and a few distribution centres are too expensive for them. Many are surviving on selling their livestock such as goats, chickens and in some cases, cows."

"Our partners have told us that they 'cannot afford to wait until there is nothing left to sell or until they die of hunger or until they start looting the property of those who take advantage of their misery to make money, while they squander the meagre resources of the country', said Mr de Groot.

Caritas Australia's partner in Malawi, the Catholic Development Commission has reported that in rural areas of the country people are dying due to hunger related illnesses and that in some districts up to 70% of people are without food stocks.

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22 Mar 2002