Two Senegalese farm laborers spray pesticides against locusts at a farm in Niaga, near Dakar, Senegal. EPA-EFE/FILE/NIC BOTHMA

El Niño could trigger food crisis for 20 million in southern Africa

Nairobi, Nov 9 (EFE).- The El Niño meteorological phenomenon, leading to severe drought in southern Africa, is expected to trigger a severe food crisis for 20 million people in this region, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) said.

“More than 20 million people across Southern Africa are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse food security outcomes in early 2024,” FEWS NET warned in a statement late Wednesday.

Specifically, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar are anticipated to be the most affected by the “adverse effects” of El Niño, according to the assessment by this US institution.

The weather phenomenon will likely result in a below-average October-March rainy season in several areas across the region, causing harvests to underperform, it added.

Moreover, grazing conditions are anticipated to “deteriorate” earlier than normal in 2024, potentially resulting in “higher-than-average livestock deaths” by the latter half of the year, as per the statement.

The irregular rainy season is likely to force farmers to grow fewer crops, reducing agricultural job opportunities for daily laborers.

“As a result, farmers and their families will have less to eat and less to sell and workers will not have money to purchase food in the market. When this happens (…) it can quickly turn into a large-scale food crisis that puts peoples’ lives at risk,” FEWS NET Team Leader Kiersten Johnson said in the statement.

El Niño is a meteorological phenomenon that warms the oceans and increases the likelihood of storms and droughts in certain regions.

In recent weeks, the phenomenon has caused heavy rains in several east African countries such as Somalia and Kenya, resulting in floods that have claimed dozens of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. EFE