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Coronavirus sharpening hunger in southern Africa, says bloc

Published on July 28, 2020

Nearly 45 million people in 13 countries in southern Africa are food-insecure as a result of drought and flood and the impact of coronavirus, the region’s bloc said Tuesday.

The tally has risen almost 10 percent over last year, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said in a report.

“Common climate-induced shocks… economic challenges and poverty have been further exacerbated by the devastating impact of COVID-19 on communities,” it said.

Coronavirus restrictions have badly affected business activity, jobs and remittances.

“This has been particularly evident in the urban poor, who rely heavily on livelihoods from the informal sector and local markets,” it said.

“It is likely that the projected number of the food insecure will rise further.”

Some 8.4 million children are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition across the region in 2020, of whom 2.3 million will require life-saving treatment, it said.

School closures since March have hit youngsters who depend on school meals for nutrition, it said.

Among SADC members, South Africa is the worst virus-hit, tallying over 450,000 infections and more than 7,000 deaths.