Regional Humanitarian Response Monitoring, December 2016
A severe drought, associated with the El Niño phenomena, resulted in a humanitarian emergency in which an estimated 40 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Vulnerability assessments and analysis indicated that 23 million required immediate humanitarian assistance, as of June 2016.
In response to this, the Southern African Development Community launched a regional humanitarian appeal for $2.4 billion to support the needs of the affected population in the affected Member States.
The international community was requested to provide assistance to affected Member States with gaps in their humanitarian response, including Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Five countries (Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe) declared drought emergencies. South Africa declared drought disaster in all provinces except Gauteng while Mozambique declared an institutional red alert. National El Niño-related government preparedness and response plans were developed and activated in all the affected countries.
Food and nutrition security and strengthening livelihoods were identified as the greatest need. The severe drought conditions resulted in widespread crop failure, poor harvests and loss of livelihoods. Cereal harvest assessments indicate nearly 9.3 million tonnes regional shortfall in production. This meant that a significant amount of cereals had to be imported from outside the region to cover the needs. An estimated 1.66 million tonnes of maize was required for immediate food assistance in the 2016/17 marketing year.
Livestock, which is a key source of livelihoods for many communities, were also significantly impacted by the drought. More than 643,000 drought-related livestock deaths have been reported in Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe alone due to lack of pasture, lack of water and disease outbreaks.
In many countries it will be necessary to support affected communities to recover their eroded production capacity through provision of emergency seeds, inputs and other appropriate support for next season’s crops. Livestock need to be protected through provision of emergency feed, rehabilitation of watering points and emergency vaccinations against transboundary diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease. There is a need to scale up use of climate smart approaches including water harvesting among high risk farming households.
Water sources and reservoirs are severely depleted, forcing communities and their livestock to share the same unsafe sources, increasing the risk of disease.
The SADC Council of Ministers at its meeting of March 2016 recommended the declaration of a regional drought disaster and issuance of a regional appeal for assistance. Council also recommended the establishment of a SADC El Niño Logistics and Coordination Team at the SADC Secretariat to coordinate a regional response in close collaboration with Member States and supported by international cooperating partners (ICPs). This team was established in May 2016 with the support of several UN Agencies, including the FAO, WFP, UNICEF, UNDP and WHO.
Responses in Member States included the scaling up of social safety net programmes, reallocation of national resources to attend to the needs of affected populations. Rapid and in-depth assessments were conducted in many countries to inform their response plans. Sector platforms or cluster coordination mechanisms have been mobilized to coordinate the drought response in most countries and funding needs and gaps have been identified.