1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Southern Africa continues to recover from the 2015/2016 El Niño-induced drought, which by January 2017 had affected about 41 million people across the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)1. The substantial government- and SADC-led response, supported by $900 million from the international humanitarian community2, empowered farmers to take advantage of a good 2016/2017 rainfall season, delivering an April 2017 cereal harvest 3 per cent above the 5-year average.
El Niño conditions persisting during the 2015/16 planting season have caused the worst drought in 35 years in Southern Africa, resulting in a second consecutive failed harvest. This has created severe food shortages and compounded existing vulnerabilities. Since July 2016, Namibia and Botswana have declared national drought emergencies, in addition to the declarations made earlier by Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Madagascar issued a letter of solidarity with the SADC Appeal, and Mozambique has maintained a red alert in affected areas.
Johannesburg, 6 December 2016: Southern Africa is now entering the peak of the lean season following the worst El Niño-induced drought in decades. With food stocks largely depleted due to poor or failed harvests across the region, estimates of people in need of humanitarian assistance have increased by more than one million to 13.8 million, mainly due to rising needs in Madagascar, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.
Southern Africa is experiencing the worst El Niño-induced drought in 35 years, following the failure of two consecutive rainy seasons. Governments have led the response. However, the scale of needs overwhelm national capacity. Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe have declared national drought emergencies, and Mozambique declared a red alert; all, together with Madagascar, calling for urgent international assistance.