Thousands of South Africans have been forced into poverty, due to the current drought that is gripping the country. The World Bank announced on Wednesday that an additional 50 000 people are now living on less than R501 per month.
Briefing a parliamentary committee on Wednesday, Catriona Purfield, the World Bank’s Lead Economist for SA, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland, said that the number is expected to increase, reportsENCA.
“We estimate that we will be seeing the average income of South Africans falling from 2013 to 2017 and the poorness ration increasing,” she said
The country is experiencing the worst drought the country has seen in over 100 years. Last year, economists were raising concerns about food price increases. In November, the Department of Agriculture, led by Minister Senzeni Zokwana and Deputy Minister Bheki Cele, presented a report to a Parliamentary committee, in which they discussed the impact of the drought on food security.
The report revealed that the drought has affected the availability of white maize – a major staple – as well as yellow maize, which was critical for animal feed.
The United Nations says that El Niño, a natural warming of Pacific Ocean waters, leads to droughts, floods and more frequent cyclones across the world. However, this is the worst that has been experienced in the past 35 years.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network warned that the number of people needing help with food security would continue to rise next year.
“High temperatures are also forecast to continue, further exacerbating the impact of reduced rainfall. A continuation of hot, dry conditions is likely to reduce yields in both chronically food deficit areas and key surplus-producing parts of the region, including northern SA, northern Zimbabwe and possibly southern Zambia,” it said.