Harare - Member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have declared this year's drought a regional disaster, calling on donors to assist affected countries with food aid for the approximately 30 million people currently facing hunger, a Zimbabwean publication NewsDay has reported.
According to a joint statement released on Thursday, several donor agencies revealed that at least two consecutive harvests had failed to yield substantial crops due to the El Niño currently plaguing the region.
This, the statement said, has caused widespread drought in some parts and flash flooding in others.
David Wright, Regional Director for Save the Children's East and Southern Africa divisions, expressed hope that the SADC's declaration would deal with the dire need for supplies in the region and stir humanitarian organisations and governments to act faster in response.
"The current El Niño is now the strongest on record, leaving millions in the path of severe droughts and destructive flooding which threaten the lives of families and children across the world. Without help, many children face hunger, disease, and futures deprived of the opportunities provided by education and protection," Wright said.
The announcement by the SADC will drive the creation of a regional logistics team to co-ordinate an immediate response, as well as long-term solutions to help mitigate the effects of climate change in the region and help communities be more resilient to future weather events.
A recent News24 report highlighted the harsh effects of the El Niño weather pattern that continues to plague the region, with many families being forced to sell off assets in a bid to cope with the scourge.
A state of disaster was has been declared in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and most of South Africa, with CBS News reporting that a minimum of $27m would be required to feed starving citizens in Lesotho alone.