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Riaan du Plessis, a farmer, stands on the cracked earth that three weeks ago was the bottom of a reservoir on his farm in Groot Marico, South Africa. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

(Bloomberg) – Southern African countries will start an appeal for $2.7 billion to cope with the effects of the region’s worst drought in more than three decades that’s left 23 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

Ian Khama, who is president of Botswana and chairman of the 15-country Southern African Development Community (SADC), will this month declare a regional disaster because of the drought and start an appeal for support, SADC said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday. The declarations enable international financial assistance.

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