FACTBOX - Southern African bloc declares drought a regional disaster

by Umberto Bacchi | @UmbertoBacchi | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 26 July 2016 17:33 GMT

A woman walks past the carcass of a camel that has died due to the severe drought near the town of Qol Ujeed, on the border with Ethiopia, Somaliland April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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More than 60 million people in 22 countries across southern and eastern Africa, Central America and the Pacific are facing food shortages because of El Nino

LONDON, July 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Southern African economic bloc has declared El Nino-induced drought a regional disaster, and called on Tuesday for $2.4 billion to help 40 million people in the region fight hunger.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) comprises 15 countries: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Here are some facts about the El Nino weather pattern and its devastating impact on the African continent.

- El Nino is a climate phenomenon which sees a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and occurs every 3-7 years, with consequences felt all over the world.

- It is often followed by an opposite weather cycle, known as La Nina, bringing below-average sea surface temperatures in the Pacific.

- El Nino and La Nina cause changes in rainfall and temperature and are linked to extreme droughts, storms and floods.

- The last El Nino started in March 2015. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) declared it had "disappeared" on July 21.

- The U.S. Climate Prediction Center (CPC), an agency of the National Weather Service, said there is a 55 percent to 60 percent chance that La Nina will develop during the fall and winter of 2016/17.

- More than 60 million people in 22 countries across southern and eastern Africa, Central America and the Pacific are facing food shortages because of El Nino, according to the United Nations.

- Two thirds of them are in east and southern Africa where some 23 million require immediate humanitarian aid.

- The drought caused by El Nino has resulted in widespread crop failures and poor harvests, with a 9.3 million tonnes regional shortfall in cereal harvest production, the SADC said.

- El Nino has also affected livestock, with some 643,000 drought-related livestock deaths reported in Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe alone.

- A report by World Vision, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Plan International said the drought has resulted in increased numbers of children selling sex and doing domestic work to survive.

- The United States, Britain and the European Union have pledged $300 million, 72 million pounds ($95 million) and 60 million euros ($66 million) to the SADC appeal.

Sources: United Nations, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, World Food Programme, Southern African Development Community, United Nations Children's Fund, Climate Prediction Center.

($1 = 0.7610 pounds) ($1 = 0.9104 euros)

(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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