• Reduced and irregular rainfall is seriously affecting the 2016 agriculture campaign in Cunene and Namibe provinces.
• Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) rates have doubled, affecting 95,877 children in 7 provinces.
• In January and February 2016, 710 cases of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) out of 7,567 cases (9.4%) were treated via in-patient treatment (ITP) and 2,026 cases out of 30,267 (6.7%) via out-patient treatment (OTP), according to the Provincial Health Directorate (DPS).
• More than 80% of the existing boreholes are nonfunctional and absent of safe water.
• Skyrocketing prices has reduced purchasing power to 40%.
• The food security situation is expected to worsen from July to the end of the year due to meagre yields and expected floods (la Niña effect).
• In October 2015, the Government of Angola set up an interagency drought commission to rapidly assess the situation and provide recommendations for immediate response.
Since 2008 recurrent cycle of droughts and floods are affecting southern Angola. In 2015, 1.4 m people were affected by the El Niño effect in 7 provinces, of which 78% lives in 3 provinces of southern Angola, namely Cunene, Huila and Namibe. Cunene is the most affected province, with 800,000 people affected in January 2016 (compared to 500,000 in June 2015), which represents the 56% of total affected people. High agricultural and livestock losses (respectively 52,000 tons and 360,000 herds of cattle) are estimated at $242.5m, mostly affecting pastoralist populations. Civil Protection and the Government of Angola both at national and provincial level has made great efforts in providing safe water via tankers and staple foods to most affected communities.
In November- December 2015, 80% of boreholes were non-functioning and water reservoirs dried up, due to a low water ground table following four consecutively drought years. In some area of Cunene potable water is estimated at 250m depth, being that superficial water is salty.
Rural communities have progressively lost their stocks of seeds and food, with consequent poverty cycles and increased vulnerability to climate shocks. Agropastoralist communities have lost the capacity to cope with compounding environmental hardships, such as a decrease in the quality of pasture and rangeland, decreased access to water for human and animal consumption, livestock health and losses, and related lack of capacity to cultivate fields, and degradation of soils fertility and water.
Competition for limited access to water and land resources, outbreaks of livestock disease, as well as human water-borne diseases and lack of food stocks and access, has directly impacted on food security, hunger, and prolonged transhumances (over 1 year). These exceptional transhumances have in turn complicated access to health care, nutrition supplements, and water and sanitation for the people on transhumance, beside the high school drop-out rates and exacerbated condition for vulnerable groups, as women, children and herders, who not join the community paths. The vulnerability of affected population also depends on ethnic groups traditions, for example one of the most affected and vulnerable groups of Cunene is the Koisã population, traditionally hunters and gatherers of wild fruits, that do not practice agriculture or raise livestock.
The current situation has been compounded by the sky rocketing food prices that increased 800% over the past year: 1 kg of maize flour increased from 50 AOA in January 2015 to 400 AOA in January 2016. Also, due to a foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak, livestock selling was suspended in the last quarter of 2015. The pastoral population survived by bartering livestock for staple food. In October-December 2015 in Cunene, a head of livestock was bartered for 1 bag of 50kg maize flour, according to Civil Protection.
In February-March a Government decree prohibited the export of imported products (profitable practice of importers taking advantage of Kwanza inflation), with consequent increase of food availability in local markets and a fall in prices associated with the availability of 2016 yields. In April 2016, 1 kg of maize flour cost 150 AOA.
The population’s health needs are directly related to their food and nutrition security situation, including access to safe water and adequate sanitation for the families; making women and children the most vulnerable. In a traditionally nomadic population, they do not follow the transhumance and became even more vulnerable when transhumance is prolonged and herders do not come back for 1 year or more, due to lack of rains. In less nomadic ethnic groups and population, men often go to other provinces of Angola or Namibia looking for job. It is estimated that the 67.8% of Cunene’s population are women and children < 15 years. The increasing child morbidity and mortality rates of over 58% and 38% respectively are already well documented within existing government and INGO-run health facilities; crude child mortality rates are more than 2 per 10,000; there is a persistent stock outs of integrated management of new born and childhood illness (IMNCI) drugs and vaccines; and inadequate supplies of basic essential obstetric care kits for pregnant women; all put new-borns and children under five years at a great risk of dying within a week of falling ill.
The under nutrition situation has become of great concern, with a doubling of SAM cases (95,877 in total in the 7 provinces). The rates far exceed the threshold of 5% and notably within a 6 months’ period; almost double the caseloads managed in 2014.
Despite the three provinces participating and posting very high coverage in the national polio immunization campaign in February; routine immunization services coverage has been very poor with 50 per cent of municipalities recording less than 50 per cent Penta3 coverage due to vaccine supply ruptures. Increasing caseloads of malaria are reported in the country (MoH), and as of 10th April 2016, yellow fever (YF) outbreak are reported in 11 provinces of Angola including Huila and Cunene in- source: WHO)
At the moment food insecurity seems to be decreasing, as during rains wild fruit and leaves availability gives people an alternative chance of food; Civil Protection reported that 43% of affected people (478,000 people) is still food insecure. although the situation will worsen when poor yields become apparent, due to lack of grain stocks for seedling, lack of short cycle varieties and good but short and very irregular rains, as showed in the graphic below. Rains started in December and are now close to the end, when crop plants are still flowering