Current food security summary
The months of March and April signal the end of the marketing year in most of Southern Africa and also mark the end of the hunger season. This period is characterized by the appearance of green maize and other seasonal food crops at the household level and on rural markets. Food security improves at this time, and is currently satisfactory, especially where production has been above average following a good crop growing season. This includes most of the northern countries of the sub region, such as Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Angola, as well as northern Mozambique. In addition, the current harvest marks the second consecutive season of above average production in these areas, and food supplies have generally been satisfactory throughout the past consumption period and even through the hunger season. Food security indicators (such as retail prices of staple foods) have remained satisfactory in most of Malawi and Zambia and parts of Angola and central and northern Mozambique. Despite the positive harvest outlook, concern remains in localized areas in each of these countries, where the season has been characterized by heavy rains that resulted in flooding, loss of crops and disruption of livelihoods.
For a number of countries in the southern part of the region, however, the food security situation is likely to deteriorate very early on in the marketing year, due to a well below average crop production after a season characterized by erratic and inconsistent rains and lengthy dry spells, accompanied by unusually hot weather. These conditions have combined to result in some of the lowest harvest estimates in 10 years in countries such as Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Although official crop forecasts have yet to be released in most countries, preliminary assessments have been conducted or are underway in much of the region, including Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Crop forecasting surveys and national vulnerability assessments are ongoing and should be completed by mid June in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Together, these assessments will provide crop production estimates and information on demand and access issues over the 2007/08 marketing year. Where necessary, this information will form the basis for any required targeted interventions and other developmental strategies aimed at responding to the needs of the vulnerable and the food insecure. In Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, countries severely affected by the El-Nino related drought, governments have requested joint crop and food supply assessments by the two United Nations agencies (World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organisation) to help ascertain the and impact of poor rainfall performance on agriculture and livelihoods, and to suggest necessary interventions (by governments, donors and other partners) to assist affected households.