More than 52 million people in 18 countries across southern, eastern and central Africa are facing up to crisis levels of hunger as a result of weather extremes, compounded by poverty and conflict.
Some areas are facing a second extreme drought in four years and worse than that sparked by El Nino in 1981.
In Southern Africa, parts of Zimbabwe have had their lowest rainfall since 1981 which has helped push more than 5.5m people into extreme food insecurity. Zambia’s rich maize-growing area has been decimated and exports are now banned; 2.3m people there are food insecure. The situation is worsening including in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia and Zimbabwe. There are reports of farmer suicides in South Africa.
Drought has also hit the East and Horn of Africa, particularly Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. At the same time, record-breaking temperatures in the Indian Ocean have dumped ultra-heavy rainfalls into Kenya and South Sudan, causing flash-flooding especially along major river arteries. South Sudan has declared a state of emergency with more than 900,000 people hit by floods.
Scientists have demonstrated how climate change is increasing the frequency or severity of many extreme weather events. Over the last decade, these 18 African countries have collectively suffered average annual losses of AUD$1b (USD$700m) from climate-related disasters– and this is without counting the cost of these latest crises, says Oxfam. However, there has been minimal progress globally in raising funds specifically to address loss and damage from climate change.
Africa contributes less than 5% of total global emissions but is suffering some of the most severe impacts of the climate crisis.
Oxfam’s Southern Africa Regional Director Nellie Nyang’wa said: “We are witnessing millions of already poor people facing extreme food insecurity and exhausting their reserves because of compounding climate shocks that hit already vulnerable communities hardest. They need help urgently. The scale of the drought devastation across southern Africa is staggering.”
Oxfam Australia’s Humanitarian Lead Josh Hallwright said the Australian Government must do its fair share to help countries across Africa respond to climate-induced natural disasters.
“These countries are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis despite, on average, creating less than a fifth of the pollution per person compared to Australia,” he said.
“The Australian Government should provide humanitarian funding for early action to help these communities avoid the worst impacts of this climate change-induced food security crisis.”
Oxfam is currently reaching more than 7 million people in ten of the hardest hit countries with food and water support, and long-term development projects to help people cope better with climate-related shocks.