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Drought Has Disproportionately Affected Women and Children

Drought across East and Southern Africa has left nearly one million children needing treatment for acute malnutrition and forced women to trade sexual favours for water.

That’s the assessment of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which warns treatment for HIV/AIDs and tuberculosis has also declined as hospital water supplies dry up.

Its latest report says the international community needs to stump up billions to prevent further humanitarian disasters linked to Africa’s erratic rainfall through 2017.

“The drought has disproportionally affected women and children, exacerbating existing protection threats and vulnerabilities and creating new ones,” says its Global Humanitarian Overview 2017, which was published this week.

It lists among the hazards: “increased exposure to wild animals and sexual violence as they travel in search of water or wild foods; sexual exploitation, in particular exchange of sexual favours for food, money and water; and children dropping out of school due to lack of water and food, and entering into child labour or early marriage.”

Elis Alves

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