In Brief... World News Review: Southern Africa in Water Crisis

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In Brief... World News Review

Southern Africa in Water Crisis

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It rained in Lesotho a few weeks ago—the first real rain since April 2003. Clearly, no country could long support itself in such a prolonged drought. Lesotho is looking at near total crop failure this year. Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe are also looking at significant losses.

Swaziland needs food aid for 25 percent of its population; 11 percent of Mozambique's children under 5 suffer from malnutrition. Zimbabwe's self-destructive policy of stripping its farms from productive families and giving them to people who have neither the skill nor the intention to farm them only worsens the weather-caused crisis there.

Aid from other countries was needed—and received—last year. But this year, the aid is slow in coming. The UN's World Food Program (WFP) says it's short about a third of the money it needs to feed the 6.5 million people in these countries who will not be able to feed themselves this year.

WFP officials have the extremely difficult task of rationing food, due to the insufficient contributions. They suspended general food in Lesotho in January, able to feed only the sick, elderly, children under 5 and pregnant women.

Lesotho's situation is worse, due to steadily declining work in South Africa's mines and on its farms. The changing economic equation means that thousands of Lesotho's migrant laborers can no longer provide an alternate income.

To the grief of those who care, Africans are again among the world's citizens suffering more than most. WFP fears that families will turn to desperate and further damaging actions, including prostitution (see, "The Slave Trade of 2004") and migrating from rural to urban areas. Crowding cities makes the problem of disease an even more frightening potential than it already is.

Famine gives way to disease epidemics. In our age of routine international travel and trade, one country's disease should be the world's unease. It would be irresponsible to cry, "The end is near" every time we learn of famine and disease. Jesus listed both of these woes in Matthew 24:7, after which He said they were among events that would be only "the beginning of sorrows" (verse 8).

Christ added in Revelation 6's "Four Horsemen" prophecy, "Power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth" (verse 8). The scope of this warning (potentially more than 1 billion deaths) far surpasses the tragedy in the making in Southern Africa—and even then, it seems that is only "the beginning of sorrows."

What is the world in for?

—Source: Alexandra Zavis, "Serious Drought Threatens South Africa," Associated Press, Jan. 28, 2004.