Africa 13.8.2016 12:45 am

Japan gives R67m to help with drought

Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

Southern Africa is still being ravaged by the effects of a particularly bad El Niño event.

The government of Japan has announced a donation of $5 million (R67 million) towards humanitarian agency the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) emergency operations in southern Africa, where hundreds of thousands of people are currently facing food shortages due to drought, resulting in significant increases in acute food insecurity and malnutrition.

The contribution will allow the WFP to provide food assistance to more than 300 000 drought-affected people in the four countries worst hit by El Niño between September and November last year. Mozambique is to receive $2.7 million (R36 million), Malawi $1.85 million (R25 million), Lesotho $250 000 (R3.4 million) and Swaziland $200 000 (R2.7 million).

“WFP deeply appreciates this generous contribution by the Japanese government at a moment when we urgently need to move huge amounts of relief assistance into drought-hit areas – especially those which will be cut off when the rainy season starts,’’ said Chris Nikoi, regional director for southern Africa, adding that the drought emergency operation had only received 20% of the funding required to assist almost 12 million people across the region until next April.

In Mozambique, Japan’s donation will allow WFP to address persisting needs and significant funding gaps while supporting community efforts towards recovery. The drought response in Mozambique includes emergency school feeding to 100 000 children and treatment of moderate acute malnutrition to 51 000 children and pregnant and nursing women.

During the 2015/16 growing season, Malawi was in the eye of the strongest El Niño event to hit southern Africa in 35 years – causing widespread drought, primarily in the southern region of the country. Japan’s donation will help WFP assist food-insecure households, while at the same time benefit individuals and the community through the Food Assistance for Assets programme whereby communities participate in activities such as repairing irrigation systems, building bridges, soil conservation and setting up community granaries in exchange for food vouchers or cash transfers.

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