Farmers wiped out by floods

Johannesburg – Floods and heavy rain across

Flooding in Three Rivers in January 2011

southern Africa have damaged thousands of hectares of farmland and more may be hit in coming weeks, raising fears for food supplies, the UN food agency said on Monday.

With the rainy season still only half way through, and with the cyclone season due to peak in February, agricultural areas along the region’s rivers in remain at high risk of flooding, the Food and Agriculture Organisation warned.

Most countries in the region, including Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, are affected, it said, quoting quoted Cindy Holleman, FAO regional emergency co-ordinator.

“Food insecurity levels are already critical in the affected areas of some of these countries and floods will only further worsen the ability of poor farmers to cope and feed their families in the coming months,” Holleman added.

The FAO is working with regional and national early warning systems to monitor the evolution in major river basins and to assess the impact on food crops, the statement added.

The agency is also providing governments with technical advice on flood monitoring systems, preparedness, and measures to prevent the outbreak or spread of animal disease, while preparing to provide aid such as seeds, and restoring agricultural activities after flood waters recede.

In Lesotho, one of the poorest countries in the sub-region, up to 60% of harvests have been lost in some areas and more than 4 700 head of livestock, mainly sheep and goats, are dead, the FAO reported.

Localized crop losses are also reported along river banks in southern and central Mozambique. The government has declared a red alert for central and southern Mozambique as water flows in the major rivers are above alert levels.

South Africa has already declared a national state of disaster in many districts of the country due to the floods that have destroyed thousands of hectares of crop land, and caused damages estimated in millions of dollars.

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