Malawi + 5 more

Southern Africa Complex Food Security Crisis Situation Report #9 (FY 2002)

Situation Report
Originally published



Note: This Situation Report updates Southern Africa Complex Food Security Crisis Situation Report #8 dated July 12, 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 and recently announced a further $76 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

Population in Need1
Jun 02 - Aug 02
Population in Need1 Sep 02 - Nov 02
Population in Need1 Dec 02 - Mar 03
Cereal Food Aid Needs (MT) through Mar 03

1 Anticipated populations and food aid needs between June 2002 and March 2003 are based on WFP/FAO assessments during April and May 2002.

Total USG Humanitarian Assistance provided, to date: $144,617,388

Total USG Food Aid provided, to date, in Metric Tons (MT): 290,610

Current Situation

U.N. Launches Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeals for Southern Africa. On July 18, the United Nations (U.N.) launched a Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal (CAP) for the humanitarian crisis in Southern Africa. The U.N. has appealed to donors to give a total of $611 million to respond to the worsening crisis. According to the U.N., recent drought and floods, combined with underlying food insecurity, increasing poverty, high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and chronic malnutrition, have led to a dire situation that requires immediate humanitarian assistance. The U.N. stressed that in addition to a massive food aid operation, urgent support is needed throughout the region in the sectors of agriculture, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, and education/child protection.

On July 18, the U.N. also announced Secretary General Kofi Annan's appointment of James Morris, Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), as his Special Envoy on the humanitarian crisis in southern Africa.

Status of the WFP Emergency Operation. The WFP Emergency Operation (EMOP) for Southern Africa, issued on July 1, is part of the overall U.N. consolidated appeal. WFP has requested nearly one million MT of food commodities for its nine-month program, with a total program value of $507 million. The EMOP will address 67 percent of the overall cereal requirement for the affected countries, with government programs, NGOs, and the private sector expected to cover the remaining deficit. WFP reported that as of July 18, only 26 percent of the commodities required have been pledged for the EMOP. WFP is facing a shortfall in pledges of nearly $379 million. Additional contributions are urgently required to meet food aid needs in the region. According to WFP, an effective response will require a total of 320,000 tons of food to arrive in the region as soon as possible.

WFP and the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimate that 4.1 million MT of cereal need to be imported during the next year to meet the needs in the six worst-affected countries of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Swaziland. Of the total food deficit of 4.1 million MT, WFP and FAO estimate emergency food assistance needs to be at least 1.2 million MT. It is clear that the ability of the region's commercial sector to import large quantities of additional food remains of paramount importance in order to fill the cereal gap and stave off famine.

USAID Assistant Administrator Visits Southern Africa. USAID Assistance Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/DCHA) Roger Winter traveled to the Southern Africa region from July 15 to July 26. He visited Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi where he toured areas experiencing food shortages, visited USAID-supported relief programs, and met with government officials, other donors, the U.N., and the NGO community.

Country Updates

Zimbabwe. The U.N. has appealed for $285 million to help Zimbabweans survive the worst food shortage in Zimbabwe in 50 years. The U.N.'s priorities are agricultural recovery, education and child protection, health services including tackling HIV/AIDS, and economic recovery and infrastructure.

WFP reported on July 19 that the Zimbabwe food pipeline is the most fragile in the region. Although 75,000 MT of mixed commodities are expected to arrive before the end of November, according to WFP, this covers only 25 percent of the needs. WFP stocks at the beginning of July were only 3,770 MT. WFP warned that unless the Zimbabwe pipeline is boosted dramatically, the humanitarian situation is certain to deteriorate.

On July 23, World Vision International announced the recent launch of a USAID-supported food aid program to benefit approximately 100,000 people affected by the food crisis in the Beitbridge and Bulilimamangwe districts of Matabeleland. World Vision plans to distribute the 12,150 MT of corn meal, 700 MT of beans, and 540 MT of oil valued at $6.3 million, provided through USAID's Title II program, to beneficiaries in the two districts over a period of nine months. The total funding from USAID is $8.2 million in cash and food commodities while World Vision contributed $130,417 cash.

Malawi. Despite local media reports of famine causing hundreds of deaths per day in Malawi, USAID/Lilongwe, other donors, and NGOs do not consider this credible information. Reliable mortality statistics relating to food insecurity are not presently available. However, mortality rates in Malawi are high due to a complex combination of interrelated factors including chronic malnutrition, high HIV/AIDS infection rates, endemic diseases such as cholera and malaria, lack of sufficient immunization coverage, and food shortages. Food shortages have exacerbated the vulnerability of Malawians already suffering from adverse health conditions.

Life expectancy is under 40 years and decreasing because of HIV/AIDS that affects approximately 16 percent of the adult population and reaches as high as 40 percent in some places, such as Blantyre and Lilongwe. In addition, the chronic malnutrition rate in Malawi is 49 percent, due to long-term under-nutrition caused primarily by poverty. This high level of poverty-induced, chronic malnutrition has left large numbers of the population vulnerable to the current food shortages.

The U.N. has requested more than $144 million from donors to meet food and non-food humanitarian needs in Malawi, including emergency nutrition, water and sanitation, disease surveillance and other health activities, agricultural inputs, and coordination. On July 19, WFP reported it has sufficient cereal stocks to cover the food aid needs in Malawi until the end of September but urgently needs additional contribution. WFP also reported that the Government of Malawi finalized a contract to purchase 250,000 MT of corn.

In addition to the nearly 20,000 MT of food worth approximately $10 million already donated by the USG to Malawi through USAID/FFP and USDA, USAID/Lilongwe has approved the Government of Malawi's use of $10 million slated for general budget assistance for corn imports instead. In addition, USAID/Lilongwe recently provided approximately $1 million to the NGO consortium in Malawi to support the coordination and logistics of food distribution.

Zambia. The U.N. has requested donors to contribute more than $71 million to meet emergency needs in Zambia for food aid, agriculture, health, education, and water and sanitation. According to WFP, the Government of Zambia plans to buy 25-30,000 MT of local corn to build up their strategic food reserves.

In addition to the 23,500 MT of emergency food commodities valued at nearly $10 million, donated to Zambia by USAID/FFP and USDA, State/PRM recently announced a contribution of $1 million to WFP for refugee feeding in Zambia. Zambia is host to approximately 250,000 refugees.

Mozambique. The U.N. did not issue an emergency appeal for Mozambique in accordance with the wishes of the Government of Mozambique (GRM). The U.N. reported that the U.N. Country Team would continue to monitor the situation. WFP reported on July 19 that it has sufficient cereal stocks to cover the needs in Mozambique until the end of September but urgently requires beans from August onwards. Assessments jointly conducted by the GRM, WFP, FEWS NET, and other partners are planned within the next few weeks in order to refine estimates of humanitarian needs in all relevant sectors.

Lesotho. For Lesotho, the U.N. has appealed to donors to provide approximately $41 million to meet emergency needs. In addition to food relief, the U.N. seeks to support the Government of Lesotho in addressing critical humanitarian problems in the sectors of health, nutrition, agriculture, and water and sanitation. WFP reported on July 19 that regional purchases of 2,500 MT of corn meal and 400 MT of beans for the emergency operation in Lesotho are underway, and distributions are expected to begin by early August.

Swaziland. The U.N. has appealed to donors for $19 million to meet relief needs in Swaziland through programs in food aid, nutrition, water and sanitation, shelter for child-headed households, agricultural inputs, cholera prevention, and coordination. WFP reported on July 19 that the first consignments of WFP food aid borrowed from the Mozambique program under the Emergency Operation arrived in Swaziland on July 13. The shipment consisted of 240 MT of beans and 30 MT of yellow corn. Distribution is currently underway.

USG Humanitarian Assistance

Since the beginning of 2002, the USG has provided more than $68 million and announced a further $76 million in emergency humanitarian assistance in response to the food security crisis. Of this total, 36,450 MT of food commodities worth $16 million are aboard the USAID-chartered ship, the Liberty Star, which is now scheduled to arrive in Durban, South Africa, on July 29. The shipment is consigned to WFP and is allocated to Lesotho, Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.

USG Food Aid (MT),
to date
Region (allocation TBD)
Regional Total

USAID/OFDA is planning a complementary response to USG food aid for Southern Africa. USAID/OFDA plans to address immediate emergency needs in agricultural rehabilitation and nutrition. For the medium-term, USAID/OFDA is preparing to address humanitarian needs in the areas of water and sanitation, coordination, and health, particularly preparing for outbreaks of endemic and other opportunistic diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, and childhood diseases.

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.

(pdf* format)

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