Global drought, food shortages affect 70 million people in 2017

The delayed effects of the 2016 El Niño warming phenomenon are now settling in worldwide. Global drought, worsened by conflict and severe food shortages, is affecting as many as 70 million people throughout central, east, and southern Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, says the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

Families in parts of Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen will possibly experience famine in 2017 if they do not receive emergency humanitarian aid. More than 1 million people in Sri Lanka are struggling with food insecurity after national harvests yielded 63 percent less rice than normal — the worst harvest in 40 years. Parts of Central America and Haiti also are experiencing drought-induced food insecurity. The situation in many countries has led the United Nations, World Vision, and other aid agencies to ramp up emergency relief efforts and fundraising initiatives to meet the vast needs.

In the Lake Chad Basin, World Vision is responding to unprecedented needs among children and families displaced by years of extremist violence and drought. As many as 10.7 million people need humanitarian assistance, including more than 500,000 children suffering severe levels of malnutrition. World Vision staff there are working to help 300,000 people in Niger and Chad this year with food aid, health and nutrition services, household items, and access to clean water.

In East Africa — South Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia — 22 million people need food assistance, including 100,000 people in South Sudan facing starvation. World Vision is helping throughout the region and plans to scale up its efforts in the coming months.

In South Sudan’s Unity state, 100,000 people face imminent starvation as the U.N. declares a famine in the region in February 2017.

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