Luanda, Angola, Oct 16, 2019 / 12:21 am (CNA).- As a severe drought continues to devastate regions of Angola, the Catholic Church in the country is asking the government to declare a state of emergency, according to Portuguese news agency Lusa.
On Monday, the Angolan government acknowledged a “severe water and grazing crisis” which has affected over 800,000 people in one southern province alone, the Associated Press reports.
Rainfall has been erratic in the southern African nation in the last year, creating what is believed to be the worst drought in at least 20 years.
In late April, UNICEF announced that 2.3 million people in Angola were experiencing a food security crisis due to the drought, including almost half a million children. The UNICEF report found that 2,500 children under age five were treated for severe malnutrition in the first quarter of 2019.
The government’s response to the situation has fallen far short of what is needed, due to lack of funding, UNICEF said.
Amnesty International argued this week that the Angolan government has failed to protect tens of thousands of traditional cattle famers who were driven from their best grazing land to make way for commercial farms.
The organization called on the government to provide emergency food assistance for the farming families, who are now facing near starvation conditions as their traditional way of life has been uprooted, with the drought compounding their difficult situation.
The group also called for an inquiry into how the farmers’ land had been removed from them. Under the Angolan constitution, there must be full consultations before land is removed from a community, a process that Amnesty International says was ignored.