By Wallace Mawire
The Australian Government has announced that it will provide further support to southern Africa in response to the acute food shortages caused by severe El Niño conditions in the region, according to a statement released by Ananya Srivastava of the Australian Embassy in Harare.
According to the spokesperson, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, announced on 2 September 2016 that Australia will provide AUD10 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) to deliver food and nutritional support to 11.9 million drought-affected people in countries in southern Africa.
It is said that some of the most affected countries in the southern African region will directly benefit from the Australian Government’s provision of additional funding to the WFP, including Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
The current El Niño event has produced the driest growing season in southern Africa in over 35 years, compounding the effects of drought during the previous growing season. This has left 32 million people in the region without access to adequate food supplies including 2.7 million children who are severely malnourished.
Australia has been active in the global response to the impact of El Niño, which has also had a devastating impact in the Indo-Pacific. Australia’s response has focused on funding lifesaving food, nutritional and livelihoods assistance for countries most affected in the Pacific and South East Asia as well as the Horn of Africa.
Through its aid program, the Australian Government is also investing in improving preparedness and resilience to climate variability in helping communities prepare for future periods of drought.
This additional funding brings Australia’s total contribution to AUD46 million for countries affected by El Niño.