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El Nino to blame for extreme weather damaging food production, says World Food Programme

EXTREME weather attributed to the El Nino phenomenon is causing a surge in hunger in several countries, including Zambia and Afghanistan, the World Food Programme (WFP) has said, urging donors to provide badly needed help.

El Nino is a natural, temporary and occasional warming of part of the Pacific Ocean that shifts global weather patterns. Studies say that as the world warms, the effects may grow stronger.

In a statement, the WFP warned on Wednesday that southern Africa was the “epicentre of the crisis” following a cycle of floods and drought that has battered the region over the last three years.

Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia are the worst-affected countries, with 40-80 per cent of their staple corn crops wiped out by drought this season, leaving millions of people affected, according to the UN food agency.

The WFP said its “teams have started to respond, but $409 million (£213m) are needed for six months to assist 4.8m people in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.”

Other countries, including Congo and Afghanistan, are facing similar problems, a separate statement said.

Hunger crises caused by wars in Gaza and Sudan are already stretching the agency’s aid capacity.

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