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El Niño and Climate Change fuel disasters in Southern Africa

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By Ragheema Mclean

In recent years, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region has faced severe challenges due to the impact of El Niño and climate change.

These factors have led to significant damage to crops and livestock, exacerbating food insecurity and water shortages for millions of people.

A recent study by the World Weather Attribution highlighted the severity of the situation, noting that large parts of southern Africa experienced significantly below-average rainfall from January 2024.

Speaking on VOC’s Drive Time show, Research Specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Dr Blessing Masamha said that countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Angola, Mozambique, and Botswana received less than 20% of their typical rainfall for February, leading to devastating consequences for populations reliant on rain-fed agriculture.

“We are experiencing El Nino, which is heavily characterised by prolonged dry spells, high temperatures which has led to poor rainfall in these regions,” he stated.

Furthermore, over 9,000 cattle deaths have been reported since October 2023, further exacerbating the challenges faced by communities in these countries.

Looking ahead, Dr Masamha said that the region is transitioning into a neutral phase characterized by calm conditions, which is expected to last from April to June.

He explained, “Early predictions suggest above-average rainfall from October to December 2024 and into 2025, signaling the La Niña phenomenon.”

While this is a positive development, Dr Masamha emphasized the need for proactive measures to mitigate any potential flooding and ensure that farmers can make the most of the improved weather conditions to recover from the current crisis.

“We have millions of people in these regions who need immediate food assistance, and these figures are likely to increase.”

“We need to institute short term measures, and this includes making provision for food aid programmes in these countries.”

VOC News

Photo: Pexels

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