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Caritas issues alert on 13 million Africans facing starvation

The southern Africa region is facing a food crisis with more than 13 million people facing starvation in the coming months, according to a statement from Caritas Australia.

The agency's Africa Programs Coordinator Wendy Ngoma stressed the continuing need for assistance.

"The situation is going to worsen in coming months with food supplies expected to run out by August," she said. "Without a further response by the international community there will be a humanitarian crisis."

The food crisis is the result of natural, social, agricultural, political and economic factors. Excessive rains followed by severe drought during the last two planting and harvesting seasons and a predicted drought for the third season have been compounded by other factors such as cutbacks in agricultural investment, lack of a minimal food reserve and the HIV/AIDs pandemic in the region.

Poor governance in a number of countries in the region has meant that governments have not been responsive to the urgent needs of their people. Inadequate management of food reserves means that the people are living a 'hand to mouth' existence where any shortfall in food supply may cause a crisis.

"The lack of government food reserve is a tragedy in a country such as Malawi where even after a good harvest the country is only marginally able to produce a surplus for it's own maize needs," explained Wendy Ngoma, who added that the high rate of HIV throughout the region means that many people were too sick (or busy caring for sick relatives) to cultivate their land.

Southern Africa Food Crisis Appeal

Caritas Australia

8 Jul 2002