HARARE, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- The World Food Program (WFP) on Thursday appealed for more funds to help it fight hunger in southern Africa where a significant portion of the population is facing severe food insecurity due to effects of climate change and harsh economic conditions.
A record 45 million people out of 345 million in the sub-region - mostly women and children - are gravely food insecure following repeated drought, widespread flooding and economic disarray, WFP regional director for southern Africa Lola Castro said in a statement.
"As the crisis deepens, the world must step up now to save lives and enable communities to adapt to climate change."
"If we do not receive the necessary funding, we will have no choice but to assist fewer of those most in need and with less. Nor will we be able to adequately expand longer-term activities vital to meaningfully combating the existential emergency that is climate change," said Castro.
She said the hunger crisis in the sub-region was on a scale never seen before, with evidence showing that it is getting worse.
"As the lean season deepens ahead of the annual cereal harvest in April/May, the international community must accelerate both emergency assistance to millions of desperately hungry people in southern Africa, and long-term investments to enable the region's vulnerable to withstand the worsening impacts of climate change," Castro said.
WFP plans to provide lean season assistance to some 8.3 million people grappling with crisis or emergency levels of hunger in eight of the hardest-hit countries namely Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini and Malawi.
To date, WFP has secured just 205 million U.S. dollars of the 489 million dollars required for this assistance and had been forced to resort heavily to internal borrowing to ensure food reaches those in need.
Zimbabwe, which is in the throes of its worst hunger emergency in a decade, has about 7.7 million people - half the population - seriously food insecure.
"In a context of already high rates of malnutrition, population growth, inequality, and HIV/AIDS, the hunger crisis is being aggravated by surging food prices, large-scale livestock losses and mounting joblessness," Castro said.