Malawi + 5 more

Southern Africa Complex Food Security Crisis Situation Report # 7 (FY 2002)

Situation Report
Originally published


Note: This Situation Report updates Southern Africa Complex Food Security Crisis Situation Report # 6 dated June 14, 2002.


Southern Africa is currently facing a regional food security crisis, due to a combination of adverse climate conditions for two consecutive growing seasons in a number of countries, mismanagement of grain reserves in some countries, and questionable government policies, primarily in Zimbabwe. During the past production season, unusually dry conditions extended across much of the region, from southern Zambia eastward to southern Mozambique, resulting in crop failures and limited production in many areas. Normally, food stocks carried over from the previous year and the intra-regional trade of surplus commodities help to offset production shortfalls. This year, however, regional stocks are exceptionally low, as they were drawn down to fill the previous year’s food shortages, and surplus commodities within the region are limited. Zimbabwe is on the verge of a serious food crisis, with almost half the population at risk. The potential for humanitarian food crises also exists in Malawi and Zambia. Poor and vulnerable households in Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho will also require humanitarian assistance. The governments of several countries in Southern Africa have declared national disasters due to actual and anticipated food shortages, including Malawi (February 27), Lesotho (April 22), Zimbabwe (April 30), and Zambia (May 28). Since the beginning of 2002, the U.S. Government (USG) has provided more than $68 million in emergency humanitarian assistance in response to the food security crisis through the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The majority of the humanitarian assistance has been emergency food relief provided by USAID/FFP.

Numbers at a glance - Populations in need and usg response to date

January - June 20021
July 2002 - March 20032
USG Food Aid (MT)
Population in Need Jun 02 - Aug 02
Population in Need Sep 02 - Nov 02
Population in Need Dec 02 - Mar 03
USG Food Aid (MT), to date

1 Between January and June 2002, the USG provided 96,260 MT through WFP EMOPs to an estimated 4.5 million beneficiaries.

2 Anticipated populations in need for July 2002 to March 2003 are based on WFP/FAO assessments during April and May 2002.

3 The 36,450 MT has been procured and is due to arrive in the region in late July 2002. It has not yet been allocated to specific countries. The USG will provide additional commodities through the Emerson Trust in coming months.

Total USG Food Aid, to date: 132,710 MT

Total USG Humanitarian Assistance, to date: $68,617,388

Current Situation

Regional. The most recent figures from the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicate that 6.9 million people in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are unable to meet their immediate food requirements. This figure will likely rise to 11.1 million by November, and 12.8 million by March 2003, the end of the consumption year. WFP and FAO estimate that more than 1.2 million MT of cereal food aid will be needed in the region during between July 2002 and March 2003. WFP is currently preparing its regional Emergency Operation (EMOP) in response to the crisis, which is expected to be released before the end of June. The EMOP will begin July 1 for a duration of nine months and target an estimated 10.3 million of the most severely affected individuals.

South Africa Surplus. The Government of the Republic of South Africa (RSA) announced on June 20 that the commercial corn crop in RSA is estimated at nearly one percent higher than last month’s forecast. The RSA’s Crop Estimate Committee reported that the corn harvest this year would yield 8.671 million MT, or an increase of 76,000 MT over last month’s forecast. The increased production level is attributed higher yields of white and yellow corn in the Mpumalanga province. Most of the corn surplus will likely be exported to traditional commercial destinations in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland.

Logistical Challenges. On June 11, USAID/FFP and USAID/Pretoria met with WFP logistics personnel to discuss WFP’s plans to move nearly one million MT of food aid into the region over the next nine months. The WFP logistics plan anticipates bringing an estimated 177,000 MT of food into the region per month, with a contingency to increase the response in some months, if necessary. WFP plans to ship an estimated 110,000 MT through the Mozambican ports of Beira, Maputo and Nacala, an estimated 45,700 MT through the South African port of Durban, and another 21,500 MT through the Dar es Salaam port in Tanzania. WFP anticipates transporting these commodities overland via a combination of truck and rail.

USAID Administrator’s Testimony. USAID Administrator, Andrew Natsios, testified before the House International Relations Committee (HIRC) on June 13, to brief the committee on the developing food security crisis in Southern Africa. The Administrator provided the HIRC with background on the food security crisis, including the pre-famine indicators, briefed the committee on USAID’s and the international community’s response to the crisis, and concluded with a call to action, outlining what steps must be taken to prevent a famine before it occurs. The Administrator testified that USAID has taken appropriate actions that could position the international community to prevent a famine, not respond to one.

Country Updates

Lesotho. The major causes of the current food security crisis in Lesotho include poor cereal crop production due to drought, unseasonable heavy rains, hailstorms, pest infestations, and poor soil management, which has led to serious environmental degradation. WFP and FAO estimate that a total of 444,800 people throughout Lesotho will require emergency food assistance anticipate a food aid requirement of 50,000 MT.

Malawi. The primary cause of the current food security crisis in Malawi is low production during the 2001/2002 growing season, which followed a mediocre 2000/2001 harvest. The sale of strategic food reserves in 2001 and failure to adequately restock in time is also a factor in the food crisis. WFP and FAO estimate that up to 3.2 million people will be affected by food shortages by the end of the coming year and anticipate a food aid requirement of 208,000 MT. U.S. Ambassador to Malawi, Roger A. Meece, declared a disaster on March 8 due to the drought-related food security crisis.

In response to a series of agricultural and landholding policy reforms, USAID/Malawi has provided $14.6 million in budget support to the Government of Malawi. The Government of Malawi has agreed to use these funds to import approximately 40,000 MT of corn in response to Malawi’s food crisis. These policy reforms, which will help spur agricultural production, include reducing the role of state owned enterprises and increasing access to markets for small Malawian family farmers. Malawi has taken key steps to ensure a role for the private sector in agricultural production and marketing through the removal of discriminatory policies in areas such as business licenses, liberalization of price supports, providing private sector access to fertilizer markets, and the removal of marketing restrictions for both exports and domestic markets.

Mozambique. The causes of the current food security crisis in Mozambique include a drought this year in southern and some central parts of the country, devastating floods in 2000, and less severe flooding last year. Total crop failure this year is reported in many parts of the south and partial crop loss in areas of central Mozambique. In the north, Mozambique has an exportable surplus, which is estimated to be more than 100,000 MT. However, given the long distances and poor infrastructure, including unreliable transport routes across the Zambezi River, the surplus production from northern Mozambique cannot easily be moved to deficit areas in the south. Instead, it will be exported to neighboring Malawi, which is a traditional practice in the region. WFP and FAO report that approximately 515,000 people will be affected by food shortages during the coming year and anticipate a food aid requirement of 62,000 MT.

Swaziland. The major causes of the current food security crisis in Swaziland include a poor 2001/2002 cereal harvest resulting from a mid-season dry spell at the critical maturing stage, two previous years of reduced harvests, low levels of grain reserves, and inadequate imports. According to WFP and FAO, approximately 231,000 people in Swaziland will need emergency food assistance during the coming year, and the cereal food aid requirement is expected to be 12,000 MT.

Zambia. The primary cause of the current food security crisis is low production from the recently completed (2001/2002) growing season, due to drought in the southern and eastern portion of the country, which followed a poor corn harvest last year (2000/2001). Two consecutive years of poor harvests, plus a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, have exhausted traditional extended family coping mechanisms, such as liquidating household assets, including livestock. Moreover, the Government of Zambia, until recently, over-emphasized the mining sector at the expense of agricultural development. According to the WFP and FAO assessment report released on June 18, approximately 2.3 million people in Zambia will need emergency food assistance this year and the food aid requirement is estimated at 174,000 MT. On June 14, U.S. Ambassador David B. Dunn declared a food security disaster in Zambia.

Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, a combination of factors, including drought, price controls, foreign exchange restrictions, restrictions on private sector participation in trade and marketing, and the government’s expropriation of land from commercial farms have contributed to the food security crisis. The recently concluded FEWS-NET food security assessment shows that only five of Zimbabwe’s 57 districts are considered food secure in the April 2002 to March 2003 marketing year and 40 districts are estimated to have food access for less than three months. WFP and FAO expect that by December 2002, 6.1 million people in Zimbabwe will need an estimated 705,000 MT of emergency food aid.

As of June 25, under the Government of Zimbabwe’s land resettlement policy, 2,900 of Zimbabwe’s commercial farmers will have 45 days to leave their farms. The policy also affects more than 300,000 farm workers. An estimated 93 percent of the commercial farms have been targeted for resettlement. This policy could further threaten agricultural production in Zimbabwe and put it at risk for food shortages next year as well.

USAID is working exclusively through international organizations and NGOs in Zimbabwe, which have in place systems to minimize the potential for politicization of food aid distribution.

USG Humanitarian Assistance

Since the beginning of 2002, the USG has provided more than $68 million in emergency humanitarian assistance in response to the food security crisis, including 132,710 MT of P.L 480 Title II and Section 416(b) emergency food commodities.

USAID/OFDA responded to the disaster declaration in Zambia by providing $50,000 to the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka to assist in relieving logistical constraints to the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

USAID/FFP, USAID/OFDA, and FEWS NET continue to actively monitor the development of the food security crisis through regular USAID field assessments and participation in wider assessments conducted by the international humanitarian community. In June and July, USAID/OFDA is carrying out follow-up technical assessments to Zimbabwe (June 11 - 18), Zambia (June 19 - 22), Malawi (June 23 - 29), and Mozambique (June 30 - July 5) to assess the impacts of the food security crisis on agriculture, health, and nutrition in affected areas.

In response to the ongoing HIV/AIDS pandemic in the Southern Africa region, USAID’s Africa Bureau (USAID/AFR) is supporting HIV/AIDS prevention, control, care, and support initiatives, as well as programs for HIV/AIDS orphans and vulnerable children, in Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. USAID/AFR also supports a regional HIV/AIDS program in Southern Africa that focuses on cross-border activities in the region.

U.S. Government Humanitarian Assistance
Southern Africa food security crisis

Implementing Partner
Sector Description
Malawi USAID/OFDA USAID/Lilongwe Supplementary Feeding
USAID/OFDA Malawian Red Cross Health
USAID/FFP WFP P.L. 480 Title II Food Assistance - 16,940 MT
USDA WFP Section 416(b) Food Assistance -3,000 MT
Mozambique USAID/FFP WFP P.L. 480 Title II Food Assistance - 9,890 MT
Zambia USAID/OFDA U.S. Embassy in Lusaka Transportation Logistics
USAID/FFP WFP P.L. 480 Title II Food Assistance - 8,500 MT
USDA WFP Section 416(b) Food Assistance -15,000 MT
Zimbabwe USAID/FFP WFP P.L. 480 Title II Food Assistance - 20,120 MT
USAID/FFP World Vision P.L. 480 Title II Food Assistance - 14,310 MT
USDA WFP Section 416(b) Food Assistance - 8,500 MT
(Countries TBD)
USAID/FFP TBD P.L. 480 Title II Food Assistance - 36,450 MT
Summary of USG Humanitarian Assistance
USAID/Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)
USAID/Office of Food For Peace (FFP)
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Click here to view the map of the Southern Africa Complex Food Security Crisis.

*USAID/OFDA bulletins can be obtained from the USAID web site at