Southern Africa drought appeal gets $500 million in donor funds

The Southern African Development Community said its appeal for assistance to cope with the region’s worst drought in more than three decades has received $500 million in initial donor pledges.

The U.S. promised $300 million, the U.K. 72 million pounds ($94 million) and the European Union 60 million euros ($66 million), representatives said Tuesday at the launch of the appeal in Botswana’s capital, Gaborone. More than $40 million has been released from the United Nations’ emergency fund to help with responses to the crisis caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

Affected countries in the region have reallocated their own limited resources to support vulnerable populations, SADC Chairman Ian Khama said at the same event.

The 15-country SADC needs $2.7 billion to counter the effect of drought this year, with donors being asked for $2.4 billion. The region has been hit by two successive failed rainy seasons that resulted in heatwaves in the southernmost countries and flooding in the northern ones, leaving 23 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.