Favorable 2021 harvest expected to improve food security across much of the region
Most parts of the region received average to above-average rainfall, facilitating engagement in agricultural activities and supporting favorable cropping conditions, notably in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, and parts of Mozambique and Madagascar. In these areas, average to above-average harvests are likely. Improvements in rainfall performance have also had positive impacts on pasture and livestock conditions. Dry conditions have been observed in northeastern areas of Mozambique and southern Madagascar. In southern Madagascar, drought conditions have been reported, and cropping conditions have been negatively affected, decreasing production prospects.
Many poor households in Zimbabwe, parts of Mozambique, Lesotho, and extreme southern parts of Malawi, affected by the 2019/20 drought, are currently experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as it is the peak of the lean season. While the rest of the region is facing mainly Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes until the start of the harvest begins at the end of March/early April. In April and May, food security across most countries with favorable rainfall and limited conflict is expected to improve with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) expected through at least September.
Despite the favorable conditions across much of the region, conflict has disrupted the agricultural season and some disruption due to tropical cyclones and continued poor macroeconomic conditions in Zimbabwe. In conflict-affected areas of northern Mozambique and DRC, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist throughout the outlook period as displaced populations have difficulty engaging in agricultural activities and have limited access to income. In southern areas of Madagascar, similar outcomes are expected to continue due to the drought conditions. While poor macroeconomic conditions are expected to continue in Zimbabwe, household purchasing power in urban areas is expected to remain low, where Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to persist.
Most Southern African countries are recovering from the second wave of COVID-19, where cases significantly increased across the region in December and started to decline in February. Countries across the region adopted different levels of restriction measures to reduce the spread of the virus; however, this did result in some economic impacts. Both formal and informal employment were negatively affected, and income for most households decreased, especially in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique. As a result, poor households in urban areas are likely to continue experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes during the outlook period.