Lesotho + 6 more

Southern Africa: Food Insecurity Emergency Appeal no. 05EA023

Originally published


The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 181 countries.
In Brief

This emergency appeal seeks CHF 39,360,753 (USD 30,193,299 or EUR 25,301,687) in cash, kind, or services to assist up to 1.5 million beneficiaries for 9 months.

A total of 1,160,000 (USD 889,941 or EUR 745,584) has been allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) - initially CHF 160,000 to conduct the country assessments and to support the developments of this emergency appeal, followed by CHF 1 million (released with the launch of this appeal) to plan and undertake a series of immediate actions in the most affected areas. Unearmarked funds to reimburse DREF are encouraged.

The situation

The southern Africa region is currently experiencing a serious drought very similar to the one that provoked the 2002-2003 food insecurity crises. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that close to twelve million people are currently in need of food assistance in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe (the three worst affected countries), followed by Lesotho, Swaziland Namibia and Mozambique. Recent reports paint a particularly grim picture in Malawi. In the worst affected areas the rains failed at a crucial stage for the crops, leading to a total crop failure.

While the overall situation in the region may not be considered as severe as that of 2002-2003, there are specific geographical areas in Malawi and Zimbabwe, for example, where the situation is worse, with over 7 million people experiencing severe food deficit. A significant portion of the population in these two countries is unable to meet their minimum food requirements until the next harvest in March/April 2006.

Given the gravity of the situation and the concern that the international community may repeat the delayed response to the 2005 Niger (Sahel) food insecurity crisis, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in his letter of 8 August 2005, called upon UN member states to support and assist southern Africa in order to avert a similarly potentially catastrophic scenario. Annan urged that "many of these people have battled food shortages of the last three years and because of endemic poverty and the negative impact of HIV and AIDS, they have not had a chance to recover.

Tragic experience has taught us that we cannot wait until the last minute to respond with humanitarian assistance". The crop harvest and food projections were presented to the Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC) at their regional stakeholders meeting in July 2005. The overall cereal production in the entire southern Africa region is down only 1% from the previous 2003-2004 agricultural season, but this is mainly due to the fact that the Republic of South Africa experienced a bumper harvest that increased its yield of 22% given the good rains in the central provinces. The variation in the region is wide, with Zimbabwe comparatively worse off (75% drop from 2003/04 and 61% on the 5 year average), Malawi (23% drop from 2003-2004 and 30% on the 5 year average) and Zambia (22% drop from 2003-2004 and 12% on the 5 year average). Therefore an overall deficit is projected in all cereal crops (with the exception of maize), requiring Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe to continue to import significant quantities of their basic food requirements to meet the needs for the current agricultural season. The SADC meeting reached a consensus on the need to respond to the situation in a way that went beyond the traditional delivery of food assistance as the sole or primary response to the crisis (3).

Vulnerability Assessment Committees (VACs) -- multi-organization in composition consisting of the Government authorities, UN agencies, and often the Red Cross -- also conducted surveys in six of the seven countries, and concluded that there are substantial food production shortfalls in the region. In the worst affected countries, the food situation is expected to be critical between October 2005 and March 2006. In addition to food needs, the VACs also identified other livelihood issues that require attention, such as the provision of safe and adequate household water.

The VACs stressed the need for the governments and humanitarian community to design the food insecurity programmes around or with the ongoing HIV and AIDS mitigation activities. There is also an acknowledgement that the humanitarian response capacity in Zimbabwe is complicated due to the constraints currently posed by the difficult operating environment experienced by many humanitarian actors in the country, demonstrated by the "Clean Up" exercise or Operation "Restore Order" initiated by the Government of Zimbabwe on 18 May 20054 and affecting around 400,000 people.

The Federation strongly supports the overall analysis of the situation, the assessments undertaken, and the projected needs, and given the situation is launching this Emergency Appeal at the request of the seven national societies in the southern Africa region to implement an integrated operation for up to 1.5 million people with a focus on the following three broad areas of intervention:

- Food assistance (basic and complementary) to individuals and households dealing with HIV and AIDS (People Living with HIV&Aids, or PLWHA), orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS (OVCs), and the chronically ill (including tuberculosis patients, elderly, disabled, pregnant and lactating mothers, school going children, and in a larger sense members of vulnerable communities).

- Reinforcing coping mechanisms and livelihoods through the provision of seeds and fertilizers (for main crops and vegetable gardens, food for work, and animal draught power support (in Zimbabwe).

- Water and sanitation support through borehole drilling, the rehabilitation of dried water points, latrine construction, small-scale irrigation schemes, and hygiene education and promotion.

The Federation expects the impact of the planned operation will be:

- stabilized food and nutrition security by meeting the immediate food needs of vulnerable beneficiaries in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

- improved safe drinking access and water outlets for individuals, households, and communities affected by dried up water sources.

- improved hygiene of vulnerable groups.

- restored coping mechanisms and livelihoods and productive capacities for vulnerable households, and help to establish sustainability in this area.

- training provided to national society staff involved in food security and livelihood programming.

The Federation has also taken note of the need expressed by some member national societies to have a more principled discussion on the longer-term characteristics of food insecurity, and looks forward to engaging with its membership to address this issue. This Emergency Appeal is also being launched with the understanding that a more detailed Plan of Action will be elaborated shortly.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Zimbabwe: Françoise Le Goff, Head of Southern Africa Regional Delegation, Harare; email: ifrczw02@ifrc.org; Phone,; Fax

In Geneva: Terry Carney, Federation Regional officer, email: terry.carney@ifrc.org; Phone 41.22.730.42.98, Fax 41. 22.733.03.97

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct 1 and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response 2 in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for a full description of the national society profile, please access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org For longer-term programmes, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal.

(1) Code of Conduct - http://www.ifrc.org/publicat/conduct/

(2) Humanitarian Charter - http://www.sphereproject.org/

(3) From the SADC summary report: "The meeting concurred that the region should move away from short-term emergency responses and engage in longer-term development interventions under the framework of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and Dar-Es-Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security. Consistent with this approach, the humanitarian community plans to address the current crisis through the Inter-Agency Regional Humanitarian Strategic Framework for Southern Africa, which presents a unified understanding of how short-term needs can best be addressed to serve the longer-term needs in the region".

(4) The Red Cross Movement is responding to the situation through an Emergency Appeal issued on 26 July 2005 -"Assistance to the Population Affected by the Clean Up Exercise"

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