Malawi + 4 more

Oxfam's response to the food crisis in southern Africa

Situation Report
Originally published
Millions of people in southern Africa continue to face extreme food shortages. We are working across the region to ensure people have access to food and to reduce the incidence of disease
Although the reasons for the food deficit are varied and complex, the failure of the maize crop is consistent across all countries in the region.


The primary cause of the current food shortage in Malawi is the regional phenomenon of cyclical drought combined with sporadic flooding and other economic factors. This has led to 3.2 million people having insufficient food to eat and many are already reaching a stage of near destitution.

Oxfam's work

Our initial findings indicate that many people are eating just one meal a day in the Mulanje and Thyolo districts as food needs become critical. In response we are undertaking food distributions in these areas.

Our assessment also revealed the need for water points and latrines as well as public health promotion in the Mulanje and Thyolo districts.

Distribution of maize and bean seed, sweet potato cuttings and vegetable seed in Mulanje and Thyolo has now been completed through our winter cropping programme.

This 'extra harvest' will allow households to return to a more sustainable cycle of subsistence farming and provide them with small amounts of food to sell - decreasing their reliance on food aid.


4 million people in Zambia have insufficient food and 2.3 million people are in immediate need of food aid.

Oxfam's work

Harvest Help, one of our partners in Zambia, is continuing distribution of seeds and tools in Siavonga, Southern Zambia, through Oxfam's winter cropping programme. Pumps and family irrigation kits are to be supplied to prevent the crops from drying up

Future work is currently being planned for Senanga in the west of the country.


Due to various factors the crisis in Zimbabwe seems to be more acute and on a larger scale than in other countries in the region.

Oxfam's work

Our food distribution to 11,000 people in Zvishavane will be completed by the end of next week (11 August).

Further distributions are planned for September targeting 110,000 people in Zvishavane, Shurugwi and Chirumanzu. We are also considering extending food distribution to Kweke and Gweru, both in Masvingo Province.

We will be providing public health support in Zvishavane, Shurugwi, Chirumanzu, Masvingo and Chivi which will include well deepening and the construction of latrines.

Our ongoing work in Zimbabwe, including summer cropping, support to livestock, fish farming in community dams, support to community collective gardens, and winter cropping for harvest next September, will complement our emergency programme.


The current regional food deficit is affecting parts of Mozambique. 515,000 people are estimated to be at risk of severe food shortage if food supply is not improved by September.

Oxfam's work

We have made an initial assessment of the situation and do not plan to get directly involved in food assistance work at this stage although we could get involved in food supply through community-based initiatives.

We have also undertaken an analysis of the national food deficit including monitoring of public health and analysis of the impact of HIV/AIDS.


A recent report by the National Early Warning System highlighted the deficit in Namibia's cereal production this year and indicated that the country would have to import 165,500 MT in order to meet its needs.

Oxfam's work

Our team in Namibia is gathering further information on the situation across the country in order to decide whether a response is appropriate.