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World Tour: Drought hits crisis point in southern Africa


WORLD Radio - World Tour: Drought hits crisis point in southern Africa

Plus, anti-government protests in Jerusalem, the closing of an independent bookstore in Hong Kong, and preparations for the solar eclipse in Canada

A farmer in Zimbabwe stands in the middle of his dried up crop field amid a drought, Friday. Associated Press/Photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: WORLD Tour with our reporter in Africa, Onize Ohikere.

AUDIO: [Water rushing]

Southern Africa drought — Today’s global roundup starts in southern Africa where an ongoing drought has hit a crisis point.

Last month, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera declared a drought disaster in the majority of the country’s districts.

That follows Zambia’s declaration in February and Zimbabwe is on the brink of a similar call as it battles with food shortages.

The World Food Program says that month was the driest February that areas of Zambia and Zimbabwe have seen in four decades.

Francesca Erdelmann is the World Food Program’s Zimbabwe director.

ERDELMANN: I just spoke with some of the elders from the community, and the last time they can remember this type of drought is 1947. This is not a normal circumstance. And they say this drought now, with this type of heat that they've experienced has not happened before.

El Niño weather conditions have brought extreme weather to the region. The natural weather pattern brings hotter weather and erratic rainfall. Tropical storms and flooding drenched parts of the region only a year ago. Now, other countries like Mozambique and Angola are also recording severe rainfall deficits.

AUDIO: [Food distribution]

A local named Lonely Kanyerere has received food aid in Malawi. She says she planted maize late in December, but the rains stopped in January.

KANYERERE: [Speaking Chichewa]

She says all her crops dried and she couldn’t harvest anything.

AUDIO: [Street]

Jerusalem protests — We head over to Jerusalem, where anti-government protesters set bonfires and danced in the streets on Sunday.

The demonstrators called for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down. Netanyahu’s leadership has faced growing criticism over the October Hamas attack and the dozens of hostages still held by the group.

Haggai Levin joined the protests.

LEVIN: The people of Israel demand from the government to find solution to release all the hostages. They are simply dying there and the government ought to do their duty and release all of them. If they are unable to do so, maybe someone else can do that.

Police fired water cannons to break up roadblocks. Thousands of protesters also gathered on the streets of Tel Aviv.

AUDIO: [Clashes]

Elsewhere in Jerusalem, reservists and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters clashed in the Mea Shearim neighborhood.

The reservists back a bill that could end the blanket draft exemption for Ultra-Orthodox Jews. The Israeli military says about 600 soldiers have died since the Oct. 7 attack.

AUDIO: [Bookstore]

Hong Kong bookstore — In Hong Kong, hundreds of shoppers paid their last visits to a now-closed independent bookstore.

Mount Zero bookstore announced its closure at the end of March after complaining about weekly government inspections.

Margaret Ng is a barrister and former pro-democracy politician. She said the two-story bookstore provided like-minded readers with a much-needed place to gather.

MARGARET NG: As life becomes more difficult in other ways, it helps for us to have that spirit of overcoming difficulties, finding our way forward.

Hong Kong recently enacted a second national security law, which is widely expected to further clamp down on pro-democracy efforts.

The U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia said last week, it has closed its Hong Kong bureau over the law, citing safety concerns for its reporters and staff.

Canada-solar eclipse — We close today in Canada’s region of Niagara where authorities are preparing to host more than one million visitors during the total solar eclipse next week.

Jake Foster is an astronomer with the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London.

FOSTER: Usually, twice a year, the moon will come directly in between the sun and the earth, blocking out some or all of its light.

The eclipse will be the first to be visible in Canada in more than four decades.

National Geographic has declared Niagara Falls one of the best places to view it.

Jim Diodati is the mayor of Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada.

JIM DIODATI: Even though we get 14 million people every year, it's over the year, it's not all at one time. To get 1 million at one time, would be by far the biggest crowd that we've ever had.

The eclipse will hit Mexico’s Pacific coast in the morning of April 8 then cut diagonally across the United States before it exits in eastern Canada by late afternoon.

Other parts of the continent will only see a partial eclipse.

That’s it for today’s WORLD Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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