The Stream, May 23: Africa Food Crisis Worsens, Putting Millions At Risk

The Global Rundown

In the wake of El Nino-linked droughts and unpredictable rainfall that destroyed harvests across Africa, nearly 50 million people could go hungry by the end of the year. Countries could lose billions of dollars in GDP in the event of a global food price shock, which is expected to become more likely due to climate change and growing demand. A heatwave and power cuts are causing water shortages in Pakistan’s fourth largest city, while the heaviest rains in 25 years triggered landslides and floods that killed dozens of people in Sri Lanka last week. Women’s rights advocates are increasingly linking gender equality issues with global climate change. China approved three new coal-to-gas plants, raising concerns about wastewater and water use. Water levels in Lake Mead hit a record low.

“I was in Santa Maria Xalapan of Guatemala when a group of women said young girls were being kidnapped and raped because there was a water crisis. It was a revelation.” –Carla Lopez, executive director of the women’s fund Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres, on the growing number of connections being drawn between climate change and women’s issues. (Reuters)

By The Numbers

49 million people Number in southern Africa who will need food assistance by Christmas, according to the United Nations. Droughts linked to El Nino are causing a massive food crisis across the African continent. Guardian

73 people Number killed in Sri Lanka over the past week by landslides and floods triggered by the worst rains in 25 years. Guardian

327.3 meters Water level measured last Thursday in Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States. It was the lowest recorded since the reservoir was built. ABC News

Science, Studies, And Reports

China and India could lose $161 billion and $49 billion from their gross domestic product, respectively, if global food prices were to double, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Global Footprint Network. The report ranked countries based on their vulnerability to food shocks, which are expected to become more common as demand for food rises and limits on water and land curb supply. Global Footprint Network

On The Radar

Soaring temperatures coupled with power cuts up to eight hours long are creating a water crisis in Rawalpindi, Pakistan’s fourth largest city. To cope with shortages, residents are forced to buy expensive water from tanker trucks. Pakistan Today

After a year-long hiatus, China approved three new coal-to-gas plants over the past two months. The projects in Shanxi, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia are expected to produce 4 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, but have also raised concerns about water use and wastewater. Reuters