JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Eastern and Southern Africa countries are heading towards a humanitarian crisis with over a million children requiring treatment for severe acute malnutrition, UNICEF said on Wednesday.
Most of these countries have not had enough rains in the past two years and the number of food insecure people in the region stands at 24 million, the organization said at a press briefing in Johannesburg.
In Ethiopia, the number of people in need of food assistance would increase from over 10 million to 18 million by the end of the year, said Megan Gilgan, UNICEF Regional Emergency Advisor for Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO).
Over six million people are in need of assistance in Ethiopia, while there are 2. 8 million people facing food insecurity in Zimbabwe, said Gilgan.
There are also 12,000 cases of Cholera in Tanzania and 10, 000 in Kenya, she said.
"We have to address this crisis,"Gilgan stressed.
She said the drought has resulted in increases in food prices and water shortages.
In Ethiopia, over six million children are in need of food with some absenteeism reported in schools, according to UNICEF.
There have been dropouts from schools as a result of failure to pay fees or engage in labour to support the family. Some children leave school to look for a job, Gilgan said.
Because of a drop in global price of commodities, countries like Angola have been forced to reduce spending on social services.
UNICEF said 72 percent of the Angolan population has been affected by the drought which has led to livestock and crop loses.
About 1.4 million Angolans have been affected by extreme weather with 800, 000 facing food insecurity.
Gilgan stated that while South Africa has also been hit by drought it has measures like grants to the old age and children to cushion the people against hunger.
UNICEF representative in Malawi, Mahimbo Mdoe said the country is facing the worst food crisis in nine years, with 2.8 million people (more than 15 percent of the population) at risk of hunger.
He said some have now migrated to other parts of the country in search of employment.
Mdoe said some are now employing negative copying mechanism like transactional sex to get food.
The number of malnourished children in Malawi increased by 100 percent to 6, 300 from December 2015 to January 2016.
"We are currently screening and giving fortified porridge to those who are malnourished," Mdoe said.
Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and five provinces in South Africa have declared a state of disaster.
If the agricultural conditions improve in the later part of 2016 it will take two years for the El Nino affected communities to recover, according to UNICEF.