Malawi + 2 more

Southern Africa food crisis situation report 19 Sept 2002

Situation Report
Originally published
Key Updates

WFP has said numbers in need of food aid are projected to rise to 14.4 million by March 2003 (an increase of about 10% on projections in May).

World Food Programme (WFP) has received 35% of their regional appeal; more is under negotiation. WFP are fairly confident about cereals deliveries until end December. WFP need the pledges for January-March now especially in view of the increased likelihood of logistical and milling difficulties.

DFID has approved a second phase feeding programme run by international non-governmental organisations in Zimbabwe. The £14 million programme plans to provide a meal a day to 1.5 million children and some vulnerable adults over the coming six months

WFP report that food shortages are affecting health and education. HIV/AIDS is both exacerbating the situation and being exacerbated by it.

Food aid intends to meet about one third of the overall food deficit. The rest would be met by national purchase and increased commercial operations

The Government of Zambia is the only country not to accept any GM maize to date. All other governments affected by the shortages have accepted the import of GM food subject to careful management and monitoring of its movement and use.

It is uncertain how much food will be imported through other channels, particularly by Zimbabwe given the lack of foreign exchange, the disincentives of price controls, and the Government's insistence on a monopoly on import and sales for the Grain Marketing Board.

There are capacity constraints at ports and rail lines in Mozambique. There are other options through South Africa but need longer lead times.

The UK response

DFID has committed a total of £62.85m for humanitarian assistance and recovery programmes to the region including:

- £ 18.75m for the WFP Regional Emergency Feeding Operation: This includes £7m for Zimbabwe,£1.5m for Lesotho, £5m for Malawi, £0.25m for Swaziland, and £5m for Zambia.

- £ 0.51m for WFP logistical support in the Johannesburg regional hub, in Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

- £0.2m for SADC vulnerability assessments to improve targeting.

- £ 14 m for NGO feeding programmes in Zimbabwe: This follows on from a £6m first phase that began in 2001. It represents a significant increase in the areas targeted and when operating fully will mean up to 1.5 million children and a small number of mothers and vulnerable adults will be receiving a meal a day until the maize harvest in April 2003. This is nearly 10% of the population.

- £1.05m NGO food for work programme in Zambia

- £ 8.5m for agricultural recovery programmes: £4m for the Malawi targeted inputs programme, and £4.5m for NGO agricultural inputs in Zimbabwe, working with households in communal areas receiving DFID or WFP funded food aid (ie excluding fast track farm settlers).

Other donor contributions

The EC has so far provided 88.5m (£56.9m) to the three worst affected countries in the region (Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe). The UK's share of this contribution is £10.8m. The EC expects to increase its assistance substantially over coming months and that its total contribution would meet 20% of the region's food needs.

The other major contribution to the WFP is 300,000 tonnes of maize from the US valued at US$76 million, representing nearly 25% of the region's food aid requirement.

Japan has announced a contribution of $30 million.


Populations in Need of emergency Food Aid and Cereal Requirements (MT) September 1, 2002 through March 31, 2003*

Most vulnerable population in need of food aid at peak of crisis
Percent of
population in need
Cereal Food Aid needs
until March (tonnes)
486,000 MT
237,000 MT
224,000 MT
36,000 MT
20,000 MT
48,000 MT
* Numbers are rounded
Source: SADC

In Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe this year's food shortages have come on top of a poor season last year, and coping mechanisms are already stretched. Poor governance has played a major role in the shortages, particularly in Zimbabwe where lack of inputs for small holder agriculture, and the ruling party's disastrous economic and land policies, have both caused shortages and undercut survival strategies. Throughout the region HIV/AIDS has weakened families' and individuals' capacity to cope with additional stress.

The crisis underlines the need for good governance in Africa. The three worst affected countries have been hit by drought, but have also suffered in varying degrees from economic problems and poor governance (including corruption in Zambia under the previous administration, poor management of food stocks in Malawi, disastrous land and economic policies in Zimbabwe), which have turned a fall in agricultural production into a crisis.

For more information contact DFID press office on 0207 023 0600 or