Severe Drought Puts Millions at Risk in Angola and Namibia

As one of the worst droughts in 30 years grips the southern African countries of Angola and Namibia, the threat of hunger, malnutrition, disease and lost livelihoods is growing.

NEW YORK (August 15, 2013)As one of the worst droughts in 30 years grips the southern African countries of Angola and Namibia, the threat of hunger, malnutrition, disease and lost livelihoods is growing.

After nearly three decades of low seasonal rainfall and a second year of failed rains, more than 778,000 people are either severely or moderately food insecure in northern Namibia, including an estimated 109,000 children under the age of five who are at risk of acute malnutrition—a potentially deadly condition. An estimated 1.5 million people in southern Angola are now food insecure.

UNICEF seeks international support for the affected population—particularly women and children—to avert a nutritional and health crisis in both countries. UNICEF is appealing for $7.4 million to fund its humanitarian aid efforts in Namibia, and $14.3 million for Angola to respond in the worst-affected provinces.

"Climate change and environmental pressure are making life increasingly difficult for the poorest and most marginalized in remote communities, where daily life is already very challenging for children. Food and water shortages now increase the likelihood of disease and malnutrition,” said Steven Allen, Regional Director for UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa. "Reports from the field already indicate that children are dropping out of school and are being separated from their parents, a clear sign of the stress and vulnerability families face as they try to cope with the drought.”

UNICEF’s support to the Governments of Namibia and Angola will focus on the prevention and treatment of malnutrition and disease, provision of water treatment and sanitation, protection of vulnerable children, and support for children’s access to education.

Although the emergency is in its early stages, the situation is expected to worsen over the next few months, making it harder for families to cope and survive. Livestock and crops have perished, and many households are selling assets and skipping meals. Anecdotal reports show that school attendance has dropped as a result of the drought. In addition, as wells and boreholes dry up, the lack of food and access to water will become major challenges.

In Angola, reduced rainfall has resulted in a gradual decline of the ground water table, and many rivers are progressively drying out. An estimated 40 to 50 percent of water points are no longer functioning. In Namibia, 41 percent of schools have no access to a water supply.

About UNICEF

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when ZERO children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For additional information, please contact:

Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, smasur@unicefusa.org