Southern Africa: Armyworm Infestation - Jan 2017Ongoing
Reports from the Zambia Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit indicate that as of 9 January 2017, close to 130,000 ha planted to maize had been affected by a severe outbreak of the Fall Armyworm, which is new to the southern African region. Of the affected area, over 68,000 ha may require re-planting. Government efforts to control the outbreak are underway...With 94% of the country’s districts affected in varying degrees, including several districts bordering Zambia’s eight neighbours in the SADC region, vigilant region-wide monitoring activities are required. (SADC, 13 Jan 2017)
A fall armyworm outbreak, the first emergence of the pest in southern Africa, is causing considerable crop damage in some countries. If the pest damage aggravates, it could dampen prospects for good crop harvests that is anticipated in the current farming season. Maize, a staple food in the region, has been the most affected, as well as other cereals including sorghum, millet and wheat. Southern Africa is reeling from the effects of two consecutive years of El Niño-induced drought that affected over 40 million people, reduced food availability by 15 percent and caused a cereal deficit of 9 million tonnes. (FAO, 3 Feb 2017)
Sixteen East and Southern African countries agreed on 16 February on urgent plans of action aimed at boosting the region’s capacity to manage emerging crop pests and livestock diseases, including armyworm and avian influenza ... Zambia has reported that almost 90 000 hectares of maize have been affected, forcing farmers to replant their crops. In Malawi some 17 000 hectares have so far been affected while in Namibia, approximately 50 000 hectares of maize and millet has been damaged and in Zimbabwe up to 130 000 hectares could be affected thus far. (FAO, 16 Feb 2017)
The first 20 days of April saw an increase in rainfall in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa, after a relatively dry March. Rainfall tapered off in late April, although some areas in Zimbabwe and central Mozambique received higher than usual rainfall amounts for this time of year ... The excessive rainfall in some areas also appears to have helped suppress the impact of the fall armyworm, a new pest which has invaded 11 SADC countries. (SADC, 28 Apr 2017)
Preliminary assessments, conducted between mid-February and the end of April 2017, showed that approximately 356,000 hectares of crops were affected by the fall armyworm infestation in seven reporting Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states: Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia. (FAO, 26 May 2017)
Erratic rainfall, high temperatures and persistent Fall Armyworm infestation lower cereal crop production prospects for 2018 in southern Africa. (Food and Nutrition Security Working Group Feb 8 2018)
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In the six northern regions affected by floods in 2017, UNICEFsupported Community Health Workers (CHWs) have reached 4,800 children under five with nutrition screening, of which 1,138 children were treated for severe or moderate acute malnutrition. Improved reporting has identified 148 deaths related to malnutrition, and UNICEF has supported the development of the Emergency Nutrition Action Plan which was been submitted for Government funding in December 2017.
• In 2017, Malawi experienced a series of cholera outbreaks. As at 31 December 2017, a cumulative total of 282 cases with five deaths were registered from the 7 districts.
• More than one million people are in food security crisis (IPC Phase 3) and have been provided with humanitarian food assistance for periods ranging from two to four months, starting December 2017.
• UNICEF provided eight water tanker trucks to the Government of Namibia to support water-stressed communities in seven drought-affected regions. UNICEF also provided 15,000 bednets in support of the malaria outbreak response which has affected more than 11,900 people in the first quarter of 2017.
Namibia has received rain associated with La Niña following four years of drought. However, the heavy rains have caused flooding which has affected 155,924 people, displacing 3,331. The Government of Namibia has responded with shelter and services for the displaced. The caseload of displaced people is expected to increase as river levels continue to rise.
The current rainy season (November to April 2017) has brought steady rainfall and relieved some effects of El Niño, but has resulted in flooding, school closures and the relocation of 1,092 people, especially in the northern regions. The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) have warned of possible flooding in north-central Namibia. Regional institutions have been alerted and are putting contingency measures in place.
Food Assistance in Numbers
- Over the three month peak of the crisis (January—March), WFP’s aims to reach more than 13 million people with food assistance in Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
- In January, food assistance reached 10.6 million people in the seven countries.