S AFRICA: Fears of Famine due to prolonged Drought

JOHANNESBURG NOVEMBER 17, 2015 (CISA) – A prolonged drought that is causing water supply shortage and claiming thousands of livestock is prompting fears of famine in the country.

The hardest hit are people living in rural areas, where residents have to collect water in buckets once a day.

“Water will definitely be at a premium over the next few months.  Toward the end of the dry season “we will be in an even more dire situation in terms of available water,” said Sputnik Ratau, a spokesman for the Department of Water Affairs.

With the drought persisting, South Africa has now declared five of its nine provinces a drought disaster for agriculture. The drought has further reduced agricultural output in the country.

According to Senzeni Zokwana, the agriculture minister, the average maize yield has been the lowest since 2008. “If the drought persisted, it could become a regional disaster,” he added. “Drought in eastern and central South Africa around the turn of the year has slashed corn and sugar output,” said Zokwana.

This means that not only will prices be forced to rise locally, but Zokwana claimed that if the drought persisted, it could become a regional disaster.

According to meat producers, tens of thousands of cattle have died or are being culled due to the drought. “There is lots of animals dying on the farms,” said Lardus van Zyl, chairman of the Red Meat Producers Organisation.

“Farmers are now auctioning their stocks before they die on their own and nearly a third more animals are being butchered compared to the same time last year mainly because of the drought,” van Zyl said.

The drought, blamed on the global cyclical extreme weather system El Niño, is the country’s worst since 1982.