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Tuesday, 7 January, 2003, 12:54 GMT
Africa famine to last into 2004
People sitting in an empty field
Crops have failed across southern Africa

The famine affecting 14 million people across southern Africa is likely to last at least another year, the United Nations food agency has warned.

This should be a time of rainfall across most of the region but in country after country the rains have been patchy and interspersed with dry spells.

The World Food Programme says this has resulted in farmers in a number of countries abandoning their planting.

And the United Nations is now warning that the prospects for the current growing season are poor.

Fallow land

"We've seen already failed crops in some areas," Judith Lewis, a spokeswoman for the WFP said.

"The rains came early in Zambia. People planted. Then the dry spell came and most of the plants wilted and died.

"So what we're seeing is that in many, many parts of Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia particularly, most of the productive land is just lying fallow right now."

Baby
The numbers of those facing starvation are growing

And poor rainfall is not the only problem.

Farmers who are attempting to cope with the failure of this year's harvest had little or no seed to plant.

And fertiliser was also in short supply.

As a result there is every prospect that the crops will be well below average in large parts of Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia.

And that will leave families across the region facing hunger for a second year in a row.


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26 Nov 02 | Health
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