The current growing season (October 2015 – April 2016) in Southern Africa is developing under the peak phase of El Nino that is about to become the strongest on the record.
• The first phase of the growing season is characterized by severe and widespread rainfall deficits. Across vast areas of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana, this has been the driest October-December since at least 1981.
• Hence widespread delays in the start of the season, especially in South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are observed. Vegetation cover is also particularly affected given the cumulative effects of the previous season’s poor rainfall.
• Seasonal forecasts for the next stages of the growing season remain very pessimistic, raising the possibility of extensive crop failures despite some recent improvements in rainfall.
• The region is ill prepared for a shock of this magnitude, particularly since the last growing season was also affected by drought. This means depleted regional stocks, high food prices and substantially increased numbers of food insecure people.
• Major concerns are now Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Malawi but other countries are also being affected