Southern Africa’s deadly drought leaving millions hungry
Residents call this drought-stricken community a “forgotten town.”
The flat, dusty roads to Vosburg are surrounded by withered fields. The streams feeding the community of a few thousand people have gone dry. Signs warn drivers of wandering cattle and sheep but there are none in sight.
The months-long drought is affecting most of southern Africa. The United Nations estimates that more than 11 million people now face crisis levels of food insecurity in places like Zimbabwe and Mozambique, where two cyclones wiped out crops earlier this year.
Among the hardest hit areas is South Africa’s Northern Cape province, where many farmers are struggling to keep their families and animals alive while revenue falls and debt piles up.
Commercial sheep farmer Louis van der Merwe, 64, broke down as he described losing more than 400 sheep and 450 springboks in the past two years because of the worst drought he has seen in 45 years of farming.
Some animals died of hunger. Others were sent prematurely to the slaughterhouse to reduce the number to feed. With tears running down his face, Van der Merwe said he now relies on donations of animal feed so the rest can survive.
“If we didn’t have hope, we would not be here anymore,” he said. “We have to have hope and faith. There are a couple of times when we have felt it is not worth it.”
Two of his fellow farmers have killed themselves due to the stress, Van der Merwe said.
Northern Cape province will need over $28 million in drought relief over the next three months to assist 15,500 affected farms, according to farmers’ organization Agri-SA.
So far, South Africa’s government has pledged $2 million.
The World Food Program says southern Africa has received normal rainfall in just one of the past five growing seasons, with small-scale farmers feeling it most.
Some like 55-year-old Gertruida Buffel, have resorted to sharing their own food with their animals.
For two weeks she had fed two tiny lambs a mixture of maize meal and water after their mother starved to death. When The Associated Press arrived at her home, she had just learned that one had died……read more
Source: AP News