Angola + 4 more

SADC Food Security Quarterly Bulletin January/ February 2000

Harare - Zimbabwe

Torrential rains devastate parts of South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Swaziland...

Torrential rains over large parts of northern and eastern South Africa, southern and central Mozambique, southern Botswana and much of Swaziland had by mid-February left a trail of destruction as rivers burst their banks, sweeping away vital roads and bridges, homes and crops. At least 70 people have died from flood-related causes as rivers burst their banks and homes were swept away in all four countries.

Planted areas for the 1999/2000 season increased over last year in several countries...

Crop plantings are reported to have increased over last year in some countries including Mozambique and South Africa where, ironically, crop yields are now threatened by the flooding and soil leaching. Dry spells experienced in the early parts of the season have adversley affected harvests prospects in Malawi, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe, while the Vuli rains are reported to ahve failed in Tanzania.

Overall cereal deficit now estimated at 2.16 million tonnes for the about-to-end 1999/2000 marketing year...

An increase in the final maize production estimate in South Africa has resulted in a slight downward revision of the assessed deficit from 2.77 million tonnes for all cereals combined to 2.16 million tonnes. Total cereal availability of 24.78 million tonnes is insufficient to cover total requirements estimated at 26.73 million tonnes. Regional deficits were only in wheat and sorghum/millet with an overall deficit of 548,000 tonnes.

Regional maize deficit revised to 134,000 tonnes from 849,000 tonnes as assessed in October as the year draws to close...

A SADC maize deficit of 134,000 tonnes is now assessed, reflecting an improvement in supply estimates since earlier assessments had put the deficit at 849,000 tonnes. Improved supplies were mostly accounted for by increased maize production estimates in South Africa. National maize surpluses from last years harvest are assessed for South Africa (482,000 tonnes), Malawi (550,000 tonnes), Tanzania (204,000 tonnes), and Mozambique (161,000 tonnes).

Current stock levels reported by most member States suggest adequate maize supplies...

Current indications are that adequate maize stocks are available most countries, including those countries for which a deficit has been assessed. This excludes Angola which is still suffering the effects of the civil war. The maize deficit countries have been able to secure most of their supplies from South Africa.


This edition of the SADC Quarterly Food Security Bulletin provides an outlook on crop production prospects for the 1999/2000 crop season, based on the performance of rainfall since the beginning of the season and its impact on crop yields. Also highlighted is the current food security position for all countries, together with the latest, and hopefully, the final forecasts of regional crop production for the 1998/99 crop season and its impact on food availability and requirements for the 1999/2000 marketing year.

Also highlighted is the extent of the recent and severe flooding calamity in Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland following torrential rains which have devastated croplands in these countries, necessitating calls for humanitarian assistance. Covered in the bulletin is also the continuing need for humanitarian assistance for the displaced Angolans as fighting continues in south-east Angola, along the Namibian and Zambian borders. The bulletin also provides an update on the regional cereal import/export programmes for the 1999/2000 marketing year which is now drawing to a close.

Food security analyses have been compiled for the 12 SADC Member States for which information is available. There is still no analysis for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Seychelles (the last two member States to join the Community). Such analyses are to be compiled as information becomes available from the respective countries.

This bulletin is based on information supplied by National Early Warning Systems (NEWS) in each of the SADC member States as well as the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) network in Southern Africa. Remotely sensed information was provided by the SADC Remote Sensing Unit. The assistance of all participating parties is acknowledged and greatly appreciated.

Regional assessment


Torrential rains and flooding have devastated large parts of South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Swaziland; over 70 people feared dead...

While the first half of the rainy season (October-November-December) was characterised by a late onset of the rains, coupled with a severe dry spell and generally below-normal cumulative rainfall, the period January-February has so far experienced increasingly heavy rains which have caused havoc across the southern Africa region, causing massive loss of crops and threatening crop yields in affected areas.

Torrential rains and widespread flooding over large parts of northern and eastern South Africa, southern and central Mozambique, southern Botswana and much of Swaziland had by mid-February left a trail of destruction as rivers burst their banks claiming many lives and sweeping away roads, bridges and homes and crops. At least 70 people were reported to have died as rivers burst their banks and homes were swept away in large swathes of territory in all four countries.

Key border crossings linking South Africa with Mozambique and Swaziland were cut. The main railway service between southern Mozambique and Zimbabwe was also severed. Botswana's main north-south road and railway line linking it with South Africa and Zimbabwe had to be closed because of severe flooding.

The Cold Cloud Duration (CCD) image for the first dekad of February (click here for CCD image) shows good rains across most parts of the SADC region. The heaviest falls were in the central, eastern and south-eastern parts of the region.

Continuing rains prohibit assessment of damage to crops in affected areas...

While an assessment of the probable impacts of widespread flooding on crops has not been possible to date as rain continues to fall, there is also increasing concern on the humanitarian impact in all the affected countries where thousands of people have been left homeless. Road access to most of these flood-stricken areas remains difficult, where more people are in urgent need of assistance.

Mozambique was the worst affected; humanitarian operation swings into action...

The Incomati, Umbeluzi and Save rivers have risen to their highest levels ever recorded. Over 150,000 people have been left homeless by the flooding in Maputo and the neighbouring industrial town of Matola. Maputo has also started rationing water after a treatment plant was flooded. While 5,000 people have so far been resettled in Xai-Xai, the capital of the southern Gaza Province, this number is likely to increase as the level of the Limpopo River continues to rise. About 34,900 people in Sofala Province had to be evacuated while flooding from the Save River had affected parts of Inhambane Province.

A major international humanitarian relief operation has swung into action to bring relief to people left homeless by devastating flood waters. The government has estimated that US $15 million would be required to fully rehabilitate flood-stricken areas. WFP is providing 54,655 people with food aid in other parts of the Maputo Province. The US embassy in Maputo has given US $25,000 in support of flood relief efforts. Norway has donated US $100,000 to support flood victims. Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) has provided doctors, medical supplies and water tanks to several sites in Maputo and Matola. South Africa has provided helicopters to rescue people stranded by rising flood waters as well as various non-food items.

Flooding in South Africa leaves 38 deaths due to drowning...

In South Africa, at least 38 people are reported to have died of flood-related causes and thousands were left homeless by the heavy rains, especially in the Northern Province and Mpumalanga Province. The well-known tourist attraction of the Kruger National Park has been devastated and forced to close after 467 mm of rain were recorded in 18 hours. In Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Northern Provinces, water levels in all dams were above 100%. Initial estimates for damage to government infrastructure in the Northern Province has been put at US $33 million.

Botswana; Floods leave 5 dead and hundreds homeless...

Driving rain and overflowing rivers have left hundreds homeless and severed the country's main road and rail arteries in what authorities described as some of the worst floods experienced in the past 30 years. In recent days of heavy rains, an estimated 5,800 homes had been destroyed by the floods as the country received about three quarters of its annual rainfall of 500 mm in a matter of days. At least 5 people in the eastern districts have been killed when their mud homes collapsed.

The country's north-south railway line linking it with South Africa and Zimbabwe had been closed, while crops in many areas were destroyed. The main route linking the capital, Gaborone, with the north of the country was washed away near the town of Morwa, about 70 km north of the capital. In Kopong village, about 30 km from Gaborone, residents had been forced to seek refuge on rooftops after a local river burst its banks. Local radio has broadcast warnings to the public to be alert for collapsing infrastructure, and advised against attempting to cross fast-flowing rivers.

Swaziland; floods sever water mains in Mbabane...

An estimated 10 rivers have burst their banks and at least 2 people had drowned since the rains began in the first week of February. The National Meteorological Services has reported that an estimated 157 millimetres of rain had fallen in the country's capital, Mbabane in the past few days alone. The continuing heavy rains were also threatening the country's maize supply because fields were becoming water-logged. Floods have severed water mains in Mbabane, leading to water shortages. The Mananga border post leading to South Africa's Mpumalanga Province, had had to be closed because of the heavy rains.

Rainfall performance improves in other countries not affected by flooding...

The rainfall situation has improved significantly in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Lesotho where most areas have received close to average to above average rainfall following increased rainfall activity since the beginning of February. Water-logging resulting from heavy downpours is reported in parts of Lesotho where fears of reduced yields are already being expressed. Rainfall has continued being erratic and insufficient in Tanzania, resulting in poor prospects for both the short rainy season and seasonal harvests.

Planted area increased over last year in several countries...

Crop plantings are anticipated to have increased over last year in Mozambique (5% above last year) and South Africa (10% increase) but these are now threatened by torrential rains and flooding. Planting of crops was adversely affected by the late onset of the rains and subsequent December dry spells in Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Input supply shortages also contributed to reduced plantings in Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Harvest prospects not promising due to excessive rainfall...

Preliminary production forecasts for the 1999/2000 crops have so far been made only in South Africa and Malawi. An improved maize harvest of between 8.0 million tonnes and 8.5 million tonnes is forecast for South Africa, which is significantly greater than last season's harvest of 7.5 million tonnes owing to a substantial shift from sunflower back to growing maize. Forecasts for Malawi indicate an above average maize harvest of 2.33 million tonnes, which is a slight reduction over the previous season's record output of 2.48 million tonnes.

While production forecasts are not yet available in Zambia, indications are that a good early maize crop is likely due to improved rainfall performance in the January/February period, notwithstanding erratic rains and production difficulties faced by farmers earlier in the season. Improved maize harvests could also be in prospect in Zimbabwe provided the rains continue into April. The outlook for production remains poor for Tanzania due to poor rainfall performance. Good maize harvests earlier predicted for Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland may have been dampened by recent flooding. Although the overall situation in Angola is reported as improving, continued fighting in the south-eastern parts of the country may jeorpadize production recovery in those areas.


Due mainly to an upward revision in maize production in South Africa as well as an upward adjustment in carryover stocks in Zimbabwe, the assessed regional deficit for the 1999/2000 marketing year is now reflected as having been reduced to 2.16 million tonnes from the previous estimate of 2.77 million tonnes. In spite of this, however, the deficit is still more than three times that of the 1998/99 marketing year, when it stood at only 548,000 tonnes. All the major staple cereals are assessed as showing shortfalls during the marketing year.

On a country level, maize surpluses from the 1999 harvest are assessed only for South Africa (482,000 tonnes), Malawi (550,000 tonnes), Tanzania (204,000 tonnes) and Mozambique (161,000 tonnes). The rest of the countries show deficits of different magnitude that have necessitated imports. The maize deficit for Zimbabwe of 598,000 tonnes for the 1999/2000 marketing year ending in March is mostly due to the need for minimum strategic grain reserve (SGR) of 500,000 tonnes. Current indications are that adequate stocks of maize are available in most countries, including Zimbabwe where production was not very good last year. In Malawi and Zambia, prices of maize grain and maize meal have remained relatively lower than the same time last year; indicating better supply this year.

The 1999 wheat harvest has been revised slightly downwards to 2.03 million tonnes against 2.05 million tonnes assessed earlier. The decrease is wholly due to a downward revision in wheat production in South Africa to 1.56 million tonnes from an earlier estimate of 1.58 million tonnes. As a result, regional wheat supply for the current marketing year has been reduced to 3.38 million tonnes from the previous estimate of 3.40 million tonnes.

By the end of January, approximately 53% of planned regional imports of 2.56 million tonnes had been received. The percentage import delivery for maize is 67% of the planned imports of 1.14 million tonnes while the rest of cereals have import delivery rates of less than 50% each. At this rate of import delivery, it is hardly expected that all remaining planned imports will have been received by the end of April, when the 1999/2000 marketing year would have come to an end in 10 of the 12 SADC countries under review. However, this is unlikely to change the food security situation in most of the countries where current food stocks are sufficient to meet consumption needs for the remaining months of the current marketing year.