The El Niño induced drought resulted in 15 percent drop in regional cereal production from 29 million tonnes in 2015 to 26 million tonnes in 2016 which is about 11 percent decrease compared to the five-year average1 . Southern parts of Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar as well as most of Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia have been significantly affected by this drought.
Approximately 40.8 million people (22.5% of rural population) will be food insecure in Southern Africa up to March 2017.
Unlike in typical years where staple prices are lowest during the post-harvest period, this year, staple prices have already started increasing and in most countries prices are expected to be above last year and the five year average throughout the consumption year. This signifies earlier than normal start of the lean season.
Most income sources for very poor and poor households are expected to be below normal until the next harvest. This is mainly due to loss of income from crops, livestock, and labour, trading and self-employment activities. Labour and other incomes will be affected by poor liquidity induced by poor crop production.
Current forecast models show predictions of La Niña further weakening, a situation likely to result in near neutral conditions or a weak La Nina. Latest SARCOF results predict increased chances of normal to above normal rains for the October – December period in most parts of the region except Tanzania, Northern Mozambique, Eastern Madagascar and north western Angola which are likely to receive normal to below normal rains. Similar forecast is predicted for January to March period except southern parts of Zimbabwe and Mozambique as well as northern South Africa which will fall in the normal to below normal category.
Normal agriculture activities are therefore expected during the coming season, although this will depend on the intensity as excess water leaches out nutrients from soil, disrupt farm operations and pre-dispose livestock to transboundary diseases.
Information on seed demand and supply in selected countries – Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar,
Mozambique and Swaziland - indicates that there are significant gaps in seed availability in formal commercial sector. Male and female farmers in the drought affected areas require seed and other input support in the coming agriculture season.
Malnutrition continues to be a problem in the region with seven countries recording wasting levels above 5%. Although the nutrition situation in most countries remain below emergency thresholds at national level, pockets of very high acute malnutrition are prevalent in several countries. The HIV vulnerability of the region remains concerning and signs of increased malnutrition among PLHIV on anti-retroviral treatment are emerging along with service delivery break downs. There are risks that development gains achieved could be lost.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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