More than 14 million people are facing acute hunger in one of the largest food crises in Southern Africa.
Severe food insecurity rates across 9 southern African countries are 140% higher now than in 2018, primarily because people are being hit by weather extremes driven by climate change, according to Oxfam, CARE, Plan International and World Vision. Across the Southern Africa region there are now 14.4 million people facing acute levels of hunger, compared to 6 million at the same time in 2018.
In the past two years, the region has experienced three major cyclones, floods, a drought characterized by the lowest rainfall since 1981 in the months between October and December, as well as record warm temperatures in the first half of 2019. These unusual and disruptive weather patterns have resulted in large scale crop losses which affected the availability of maize, a staple food, and driven prices up across the region in 2019. Zimbabwe is the hardest hit country by proportion, with 5.8 million people facing severe levels of food insecurity across urban and rural areas. Zambia has 2.3 million people affected; Mozambique 2 million, and Malawi 1.9 million.
CARE is working in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe providing food, cash, nutrition, WASH, climate-resilience and livelihoods support. Matthew Pickard, CARE International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa said:
As CARE, we are making sure we provide a gender sensitive approach in our drought response and resilience programming, to ensure the most vulnerable groups such as women and girls are prioritised and empowered, and that their specific needs are met. This includes working with women to set up village savings and loans associations, income diversification and other climate resilience building programmes.
People in northwest Syria are living through one of the worst crisis, since the war in Syria began. Since December 2019, more than 800,000 people, most of whom are women and children, have been forcibly displaced in Idlib and surrounding areas. Winter conditions and freezing weather are further exacerbating the dire humanitarian situation and the vulnerability of those affected. Rain, snow and freezing temperatures across northwest Syria have made living conditions unbearable for some 450,000 displaced people who are living in camps, unfinished or destroyed buildings, or even out in the open. The dire situation of civilians in northwest Syria is further compounded by unprecedented devaluation of the Syrian Pound. Since the beginning of the year, at least 235 civilians, including 47 women and 84 children were killed, according to the UN Human Rights Office. In 2019 alone, there were 85 attacks on healthcare facilities in Northern Syria. The first weeks of 2020 have seen this atrocious trend continue. There is an urgent need for vital health support for pregnant women, mothers and newborn babies in northwest Syria.
Together with partners in northwest Syria, CARE is responding to the current intensification of hostilities by providing clean water and sanitation, maternal and reproductive healthcare, and psychosocial support to people affected by the crisis. CARE is also distributing relief supplies, such as food baskets, ready-to-eat rations, hygiene and baby packages, kitchen supplies, mattresses and winter supplies, including blankets and children’s clothing. Throughout this period, CARE has supported evacuation efforts from urban centers being targeted by airstrikes and is also supporting a network of ambulances. Between 21st December and 13th February, CARE reached more than 160,000 people in need in northwest Syria.
Today the first medical passengers will leave Sana’a airport – something that CARE has been calling for since the airport was closed to commercial flights three and a half years ago. Passengers will be transported to Amman and Cairo for treatment. Aaron Brent, CARE Yemen Country Director, said:
In this long and painful conflict, the opening of Sana’a International Airport for medical flights today signifies a willingness to prioritise the needs of sick and vulnerable Yemenis. CARE welcomes this step, and calls for the full re-opening of the airport, which will bring in commercial and humanitarian goods and give Yemenis the basic freedom to travel overseas.
Since the beginning of January, several areas in the north of the country have been affected by floods triggered by heavy rain. Nearly 107,000 people are affected, including more than 16,000 people displaced.
CARE Madagascar has non-food items (plastic sheeting, kitchen kits) prepositioned and CARE teams started distributing kitchen kits this week. 700 families that have lost their belongings have received kitchen kits. The CARE team in the north and northwest is currently conducting a rapid multisector assessment, using drones and ground assessment, in coordination with other national stakeholders, to help plan and coordinate the emergency response.
Heavy rains and floods have affected central and south-eastern states since last September, compounding an already dire humanitarian situation due to the ongoing conflict. Adamawa is the worst hit by the floods with over 100,000 people affected and 19,000 of them displaced in government settlements. More than 40,000 men, women and children – mostly internally displaced people – have little or no access to food or services.
Since the start of July 2019, CARE has helped 162,000 people through food support, livelihood recovery, health and protection/ gender-based violence services.