Lesotho + 4 more

Food security brief: September 2012 (FSNWG Southern Africa)

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Situation Report
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Food Insecurity to Intensify in the Region

A total of 5.48 million people will be food insecure in the 2012/13 consumption year. This is a staggering increase of 39% from the 2011/12 consumption year.

Increasing staple food prices, high fuel prices and declining purchasing power

Stressing and crisis food security indicators are evident in countries that experienced persistent and prolonged dry spells and reduced harvests in the 2011-12 production year. Notable levels of food insecurity is currently being experienced in most parts of Lesotho, central and southern Malawi, southern and central Zimbabwe, central and southern Mozambique and parts of Angola. The implications of these hazards include increasing prices of staple foods, higher fuel prices, declining purchasing power and the use of severe, erosive coping strategies.

In Lesotho, rising prices of the price of staple food increased by 60% compared to the baseline (2009/10). Both the prices of cooking oil and the cost of minimum non-staple basket increased by 10-30% (LVAC Report, June 2012). The price of maize meal has increased in drought affected districts. Compared to June prices, maize meal prices increased by 3% in Leribe; followed by Quthing and Thaba-Tseka with 1% increase (WFP Lesotho).

In Malawi, maize prices have increased more than 100% in the same period compared to the previous year (MoAFS, 2012). The inflation rate is continually increasing and at present inflation stands at 21.7 percent. As a result, prices of basic goods and services are still rising, pushing up the cost of living. Prices of agricultural inputs have also been increasing during the last year. Throughout August, the complex NPK fertilizer prices increased from an average of MK280 ($1.02) per kg compared to MK 200 per kg ($0.73) in January 2012, showing an increase of 40% (MoAFS, 2012). The price of fuel has also increased by 32% during 2012 (WFP, Malawi Country Office).

In Zimbabwe, there is a similar trend, maize grain prices in the south (Matebeleland south, Masvingo and Matebeleland North) continue to rise above the national average. Staple cereal prices are the highest in the country, ranging from $0.40-0.57 kg compared to $0.20 kg in surplus areas in the north (FEWSNET, August 2012). The price of small grains in the southern areas is also relatively high compared to last year- ranging from $0.57 to $1.25 per kg as compared to between $0.34-0.86 in July 2011 (FEWSNET, August 2012). In some areas in the south, households have already depleted their food stocks and have begun engaging in consumption coping strategies such as maternal buffering. There is also evidence that households are selling their livestock for cash to purchase food. The use of these erosive strategies is quite alarming, given the fact that even with humanitarian assistance, there is a severe decrease in the resilience of vulnerable and food insecure households to cope with shocks and stress.