South Africa + 9 more

FAO/GIEWS Special Alert No. 336: Southern Africa (22 December 2015)

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Delayed onset of seasonal rains in parts of Southern Africa raises serious concern for crop and livestock production in 2016


  • El Niño-related dry conditions at the start of the 2015/16 cropping season adversely affect cropping activities and impede early crop development in Southern Africa

  • Climate forecasts point to a very likely continuation of drier-than-normal conditions in early 2016 increasing the likelihood of serious impacts on production across many areas of the subregion

  • A second consecutive reduced cereal harvest may exacerbate the current situation resulting from the reduced 2015 harvests, whereby prices of maize are well above their year-earlier levels and food security conditions are generally stressed across the subregion

A strong El Niño episode, declared in March 2015, is predicted to continue in early 2016 with potential impacts persisting well into next year. The weather phenomenon is historically associated with suppressed rains and higher temperatures in large portions of Southern Africa during the main cropping season (October-July), which can adversely affect agriculture, water resources and food security. El Niño-associated dry weather in Central America, and in parts of Asia and East Africa has already adversely affected crop and livestock production, implying that similar impacts could transpire in Southern Hemisphere countries where the crops are just starting to develop.

FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) has been closely monitoring weather anomalies, and analysed past episodes, to assess possible effects that the current El Niño may have on crop and livestock production, and the food supply situation. Such information enables FAO’s Early Warning – Early Action initiative to plan for and facilitate the implementation of key interventions aimed at reducing possible adverse effects.