JOHANNESBURG(Reuters) - The International Federation of Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has pledged $110 million to a new initiative to help drought-stricken southern African countries.
In South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe, last year's poor rains have been followed by an El Nino-driven drought that has delayed planting and stunted crops.
An estimated 31.6 million people across the region are struggling to feed themselves, and the figure is expected to rise to more than 49 million by the end of the year, the IFRC said in a statement.
The organization aims to help a million people over the next five years with emergency food distribution, training in irrigation schemes and new farming practices.
South Africa said last week its 2015 winter wheat crop had fallen 18 percent from the previous year, and it would have to import around 60 percent of its needs in this marketing year.
(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; editing by Andrew Roche)