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UN food agency responds to "race against time: in southern Africa

UNITED NATIONS, July 28 (Xinhua) -- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Thursday presented a response plan to what it describes as "a race against time in drought-ravaged Southern Africa" to ensure 23 million people receive farming support, a UN spokesman told reporters here.

"With only a few weeks before land preparation begins for the next main cropping season, the plan aims to ensure that seeds, fertilizers, tools, and other inputs and services are provided to small-holder farmers to cope with the El Nino-induced drought in the region," Farhan Haq, the deputy UN spokesman, said at a daily news briefing here.

The FAO warns that at least 109 million U.S. dollars in funding is required to avoid these 23 million people being dependent on humanitarian assistance until mid-2018, he said.

On July 15, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that Southern Africa is experiencing the worst El Nino-induced drought in 35 years, following the failure of two consecutive rainy seasons.

Nearly 40 million people in the region are food insecure, OCHA said.

This year's El Nino is taking place in a world already dramatically affected by climate change.

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