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southern africa: More needed to ward off hunger, FAO

Johannesburg, 22 October 2002 (IRIN) - The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has once more appealed to donors to assist in fighting hunger in Southern Africa, amid reports that the World Bank would give US $100 million to two of the worst-affected countries.

Reuters reported that World Bank Vice President for Africa Callisto Madavo announced that Malawi and Zambia would each receive US $50 million from the Bank within the next month.

About half of the cash going to each country would be grants while the balance would be concessionary loans, Madavo noted.

Malawi and Zambia are among six southern African countries facing critical food shortages. The others are Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland. In total, more than 14 million people require food aid until March 2003.

FAO meanwhile said in a statement that winter harvests are expected to be scarce and the situation risks deteriorating even further.

The agency said it had received a mere 34 percent of the total funds it had appealed for in mid-August to deal with the Southern African food crisis. More than US $20 million was needed to ward off famine in Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. "This [lack of funds] is seriously hindering our efforts to deal with the crisis," an unnamed FAO expert was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) announced the arrival of a delegation of church representatives in Southern Africa for a mission aimed at increasing awareness of the current crisis.

Particular focus was being paid to how the HIV/AIDS crisis had exacerbated the current food shortages.

"Besides working to alleviate the immediate needs with food distributions and nutrition assessments to determine humanitarian necessities, CRS and its partners are also addressing the underlying factors that have contributed to this crisis. The agency supports agricultural rehabilitation activities that focus on crop diversification, strengthening seed systems and drought mitigation in order to avoid similar crises in the future," a CRS statement said.

Theme (s): Food Security,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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