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Southern Africa: the cycle of poverty continues

November 2004

Posted with acknowledges to the Pretoria office of Save the Children (UK).
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Two years ago, Southern Africa was the focus of attention for the humanitarian community and for public concern. Between the 6 focus countries of a regional appeal (Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and Angola, over 16.5 million people were estimated to be in need of emergency assistance to meet their food needs.

In the period up to April 2005, the number of people predicted to be food insecure is 60% lower than two years ago, and aid agencies are scaling-down activities rapidly and supporting residual "vulnerable groups". Save the Children does not believe that it is a case of "mission accomplished" and that we can now shift our collective energies to other acute crises. In the short term, over 6 million people are in need of assistance. Crucially, however, looking at developments over the last 3 years there is a clear pattern within Southern Africa of crises continuing or recurring after a previous improvement in some countries, while longer-term indicators highlight the inevitability of crises recurring throughout the region. We should be beginning to address the chronic problems in the region that are maintaining - and in most cases worsening - a cycle that will keep children and future generations in an unacceptable state of poverty.

In addition to providing necessary emergency assistance, Save the Children urges donors to provide greater support that acknowledges the chronic nature of the problems in the region. This includes funding investment in basic services such as education and healthcare, supporting livelihood recovery, enhancing safety net provision, scaling-up of activities to prevent, mitigate and treat HIV/AIDS, and continuing to support food security and livelihood information systems. Children must cease to be viewed a 'sector', rather ministries and donors should ensure that resource allocation prioritises children across all policies.



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