Southern Africa Key Message Update, December 2016
November marks the normal start of the lean season in most of the region, but most countries experienced an earlier than normal start to the lean season this year because of the impact of the El Niño-drought in late 2015 and early 2016. Poor households in the most affected parts of the region including areas in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe continue facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes with increasing areas likely falling into Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes during the peak period (Jan-Mar 2017) in the absence of adequate humanitarian assistance.
Across the region, heavy rains have been received and the official start of the season has occurred in most countries. Planting has begun in some areas, but poor households access to inputs is assumed to be a limitation since most drought affected households do not have adequate cash to cover seeds and fertilizer needs. Households have already started engaging in agricultural related income earning activities, but wages are expected to be lower due to increased competition for casual labor among households that need to earn income for food purchases. In some parts of the region, high rainfalls have often resulted in high levels of leaching which could potentially lead to poor crop conditions and lower yields.
During a typical lean season, prices of staples increase, but prices in countries including Malawi and Mozambique are significantly well above-average due to the impact of the El Niño-induced drought. For most affected parts of Mozambique and Malawi, staples prices have remained consistently above 150 percent of both last year and the five-year average and this trend will likely continue , possibly increasing more, as the peak lean season progresses.