Warning over Africa food shortages

Food shortages are "a chronic problem" in southern Africa, the United Nations has warned.

The UN's deputy humanitarian chief said more than 5.5 million people in eight countries need aid this year, a 40% increase compared with 2011.

Catherine Bragg, winding up a five-day southern Africa trip, said worsening food shortages are the result of drought or floods and rising world food prices.

In Zimbabwe, 1.6 million people are affected by food shortages and many rural families have begun selling village livestock, often kept as a symbol of status and wellbeing, to cope with the "dire situation", she said.

A decade of seizures of commercial farms has disrupted food production in Zimbabwe, a former regional breadbasket.

Food shortages are also particularly acute in Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland, Ms Bragg said.