ECHO Factsheet – Southern Africa and Indian Ocean – March 2017
Since early 2015, the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region has faced widespread food shortages owing to the worst drought in 35 years which was exacerbated by the El Niño weather phenomenon. Two consecutive failed rainy seasons have left 13.8 million people in need of emergency food assistance.
In early 2017, regions previously affected by El Niño experienced excessive rainfall, floods and cyclones associated with La Niña. For many families this has meant losing their crops for a third consecutive time. La Niña causes opposite conditions to those associated with El Niño, and is associated with changes in the intensity and distribution of rainfall.
Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have been particularly hard hit by extreme weather. Malawi experienced heavy floods, while Mozambique and Madagascar were caught in the eye of tropical cyclones, respectively Dineo and Enawo. Several European Commission humanitarian partners activated the mechanism for rapid response which allowed them to immediately address the fall-out of these disasters.
After crossing Mozambique, Dineo also moved through Zimbabwe as a powerful storm, leaving 250 people dead and causing extensive damage to infrastructure. Mozambique issued an appeal for assistance for 150 000 affected people while Zimbabwe declared the floods a national disaster. Enawo cyclone in Madagascar left more than 10 000 people displaced.
The peak of the ‘lean season’, when food shortages are most acute and are stretching people’s coping mechanisms to their limits, is expected to last until the harvest period in April 2017, but in several places may be extended until May/June due to late start of the rainy season. It will however take vulnerable communities many months, if not years, to recover.