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A man walks through his drought-affected corn field outside Harare (OSV News/Philimon Bulawayo, Reuters)

As the El Niño climate phenomenon produces drought and food shortages in several African nations, the Catholic bishops of Zimbabwe are issuing urgent appeals to avoid what they describe as a serious risk of starvation. Source: Crux.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, El Niño reached a peak in December that will result in above-normal temperatures until May. The spike has affected several countries in Southern Africa, including Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the temperature increases have triggered dry spells, low and erratic rainfall and elevated temperatures and floods, all of which have led to low harvests.

In Zimbabwe, the government recently estimated that droughts related to El Niño have left 2.7 million people at risk of starvation.

In a statement issued on April 4, members of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference called on humanitarian organisations and agencies to pool resources and prevent the impending loss of life due to the drought’s devastating impact.

“The much-talked-about climate change has once again shown its ugly face. The consequences of any drought are dire, but when it hits people who are already struggling, the devastation is beyond any imagination,” the bishops said.

“Most people in rural areas who practice subsistence farming have lost their very lifeline. The dry pasture conditions will negatively impact the rural cattle herd. As a nation, we are faced with a threat to our livelihoods and food insecurity,” they said.

The bishops called for concerted efforts in addressing the situation.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared the El Nino-imposed drought a national disaster and called upon United Nations agencies, local businesses, and religious charitable organisations to join forces and provide vital humanitarian aid to address this critical situation.


Zimbabwe bishops sound alarm over El Niño-related droughts (By Ngala Killian Chimtom, Crux