(Bloomberg) -- The Southern African Development Community made a regional humanitarian appeal for at least $5.5 billion in assistance to deal with the impact of severe droughts and floods caused by the El Niño weather pattern, it said Monday.

The severe weather has affected more than 61 million people in the region, the 16-member bloc said in a statement following a heads-of-state summit to discuss the disasters that have wiped out crops. 

While parts of Zambia and Zimbabwe this year endured the worst drought in at least four decades of records, threatening food supplies, severe flooding hit countries such as Tanzania. The extreme weather has caused major electricity shortages in Zambia and Zimbabwe, which rely on hydroelectric dams, while also pushing up the need for food imports and fanning consumer price inflation.

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