An estimated 45 million people are threatened with hunger by a severe drought strangling wide stretches of southern Africa.
Emergency food deliveries are planned for parts of South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and other countries hard hit by a combination of low rainfall and high temperatures.
Parts of Zimbabwe have had the lowest rainfall since 1981, contributing to making more than 5.5 million at risk of extreme food insecurity.
Zambia’s rich maize-growing area has been hit hard and exports are now banned; 2.3 million people there are food-insecure, according to Oxfam and the Zambia Red Cross. The drought is also worsening food availability in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar and Namibia.
Southern Africa has received normal rainfall in just one of the past five growing seasons, which particularly hits the small-scale farmers who depend on rain for their crops, the U.N. World Food Program said last week. The U.N. food agencies plan to distribute emergency food aid to 11 million people in the coming months.
The drought has also affected the region’s wildlife. At least 105 elephants have died in Zimbabwe as a result of lack of water and vegetation, according to Zimbabwe’s National Parks.