WOMEN in drought-prone Southern African countries are resorting to survival se_x and submitting to other exploitative behaviour in return for money and food, humanitarian organisations said.
The El Nino induced drought is mostly affecting women and children, especially young girls who are dropping out of school due to lack of water and food.
It is feared that such behaviour could worsen catastrophe in a region also severely affected by the scourge of HIV/Aids and rampant poverty.
These are among the setbacks sparked by the worst drought in 35 years in the region, devastating the lives of 40 million people.
Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have been the worst affected countries.
“We have warned for months that this food crisis deteriorates by the day,” said Michelle Carter, deputy regional director for Care Southern Africa.
Care is providing humanitarian aid and addressing poverty in the region.
Carter said the region is now approaching the peak of hunger, but international funding still doesn’t match the enormous needs.
So far, there is a funding gap of R7,5 billion to reach people in desperate need of assistance.“Without additional funding, we will see more people dying of hunger.
“More children will suffer irreparable damage from malnutrition and die of preventable diseases,” added Carter.
Several governments have declared national emergencies as the scale of the drought overstretches coping mechanisms.