Oct 31, 2016

Severe southern African drought to worsen: UN

Maputo
Mozambique
by
Seychelles News Agency via AFP
A photo taken on February 7, 2016 shows the fast drying catchment area of the Umzingwani dam in Matabeleland, Southwestern Zimbabwe. Photo: Ziniyange Auntony, AFP
A photo taken on February 7, 2016 shows the fast drying catchment area of the Umzingwani dam in Matabeleland, Southwestern Zimbabwe. Photo: Ziniyange Auntony, AFP

The impact of the most severe drought to hit southern Africa in 35 years is expected to worsen in the coming months, a UN climate envoy warned Friday.

"The crisis has yet to peak," Macharia Kamau, special envoy on El Nino andclimate, said at the end of a four-day trip to Mozambique.

The devastation, which has affected some 18 million people across the southern African region, will be at its worst around January next year, he said.

Mozambique, with 1.5 million people reeling from the drought, is one of the worst-hit countries, along with Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho and southern Madagascar.

"For many children, women and the elderly, the next few months will be about looking at survival straight in the face," Kamau told reporters in Maputo after visiting water-starved districts a few hours' drive from the capital.

"Frankly, what I saw there saddened and shocked me. We saw stretches of land, bone dry and desolate," he said.

Some parts in Mozambique have not seen rains for three years, according to the country's natural disaster management agency.

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Drought in the region has been blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon which occurs every two to seven years, affecting rainfall patterns by causing both drought and flooding.