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Angola sending aid to 300,000 at risk from drought

Source: Reuters - Thu, 9 May 2013 08:43 PM
Author: Reuters
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A young girl holds a child as they walk on the streets in Sambizanga informal settlement outside Luanda, Angola, August 28, 2012. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
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* Drought lasts two years in southern province of Cunene

* Government to send emergency medical aid, food, water

* UNICEF said 2012 drought affected 1.8 mln people

LISBON, May 9 (Reuters) - Angola set up an emergency plan on Thursday for the southern province of Cunene, where an estimated 300,000 people are at risk of malnutrition because of a two-year-long drought.

"The plan seeks to immediately provide medical assistance, food and drinking water for the most needy populations," the cabinet's economic commission said in a statement.

Cunene, a semi-arid province which shares a border with Namibia to the south, depends largely on subsistence farming and cattle-raising.

Provincial governor Antonio Didalelwa was cited by state-owned newspaper Jornal de Angola as saying more than 300,000 people, or approximately the entire known population of the province, are at risk of malnutrition.

"We are worried about the situation. There is a lack of food and water for people and cattle," he said.

"The people in the province are going through very tough times because it hasn't rained for two years and that is harming families, who depend on agriculture and cattle-raising."

Angola, which is roughly twice the size of Texas, suffered heavily from drought last year.

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) said that 1.8 million people were affected by a prolonged drought in 2012, including more than 500,000 children.

The U.N. agency said it has been working closely with the government to ensure the drought does not result in malnutrition.

Angola is Africa's second-largest oil producer, after Nigeria, but is still recovering from a 27-year that ended 11 years ago and which devastated most of its infrastructure.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979, has promised to improve social conditions and better distribute Angola's oil wealth during a new five-year term he secured in an election last year.

His government said on Thursday it would use budget funds to minimise consequences of natural disasters in Cunene.

(Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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