New York – United Nations Deputy Humanitarian Chief Catherine Bragg wrapped up her five-day visit to southern Africa today, calling on countries and partners in the region to strengthen their efforts to work together to promote disaster preparedness and tackle food insecurity.
Food insecurity continues to be a chronic problem in southern Africa, particularly in Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Across the region, more than 5.5 million people in eight countries – a 40 per cent increase from 2011 – face food shortages due to the impact of recurrent natural disasters like droughts and floods, and rising food prices.
“Southern Africa is facing a silent food insecurity emergency,” said Ms. Bragg, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who visited Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. “Regional food production has been weakened by recurrent disasters. In Lesotho, about a third of the population does not have enough food to eat or sell. In Zimbabwe, 1.6 million people are expected to be food insecure and many families are selling their own livestock to cope with this dire situation.”
In Zimbabwe, Ms. Bragg met with Government officials, including the Ministers of Regional Integration and International Cooperation, and Labour and Social Services, to discuss ways to further strengthen the resilience of affected communities. With the humanitarian community, Ms. Bragg also reviewed increased efforts to usher Zimbabwe into recovery.
Earlier in the week ASG Bragg met with representatives from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Botswana, to discuss ways to further strengthen the partnership, including in disaster preparedness and response. A civilian stand-by surge mechanism for disaster response is expected to soon become operational.
In South Africa, Ms. Bragg also met representatives from the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation and the nascent South African Development Partnership Agency to discuss closer partnership between OCHA and the Government.
“South Africa has been increasingly active in supporting regional and international humanitarian responses. It has provided significant financial support to the CERF, and for humanitarian responses to the earthquake in Haiti and the Sahel crisis,” said ASG Bragg.