Malawi + 4 more

FEWS Southern Africa Food Security Outlook, Oct - Mar 2009

Situation Report
Originally published


Current food security conditions are stable in most parts of the region that had favorable crop growing conditions in the 2007/08 season. Production was above the past five-year average in most countries (with the exception of Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe) and at the regional level was above levels achieved last year. Where there were localized crop failures, households are already moderately food insecure.

In areas now facing moderate food insecurity, conditions are likely to decline through December but remain stable through from January through March. This scenario assumes that scaled up (and well resourced) food relief programs will ameliorate conditions in affected areas, thus reducing the rates of deterioration in food insecurity. This is particularly important in Zimbabwe, where humanitarian interventions are being scaled up following the lifting of the suspension on NGO operations. It is also assumed that food availability will improve in the latter part of the outlook period with the green harvests.

Favorable crop production prospects are based on the regional seasonal forecast, which indicates a normal to above normal rainfall season in most parts of the region under review, especially during the October " December period. Eastern Zimbabwe and central and southern Mozambique are likely to face normal to below normal rainfall in the latter part, thus delaying the green harvest and the gradual easing of food availability that normally occurs towards the end of the period.

In the worst case, assumptions underlying the most likely scenario do not hold, and instead, conditions deteriorate, leading to high levels of food insecurity, particularly in Zimbabwe, potentially high levels in Malawi, and moderate levels in southern and central Mozambique and southern and western Zambia, where populations face moderate food insecurity even in the most likely scenario. The situation would be further exacerbated if rainfall performance is poor, with a delayed start and/or lengthy dry spells, and if prices rise above expected levels.