Southern Africa—which is on the frontlines of the global climate crisis—has been buffeted by back-to-back shocks, with erratic and uneven rainfall since November 2019 causing both floods and drought. At least 14.4 million people are now severely food insecure and the lean season (which ordinarily lasts from October to March) could last longer than expected, as many farmers have either lost their crops or will not be able to harvest in March as planned.
Below-average rains have been recorded in several areas that were already experiencing severe drought, including south-east Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, southern Mozambique, Namibia, western South Africa, south-west Zambia, and south-east Zimbabwe. At the same time, heavy rainfall has led to flooding in parts of Angola, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Mozambique, floods have affected areas still recovering from Tropical Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which struck the country in 2019. Meanwhile, Madagascar has been hit by Cyclone Belna in December 2019 and an intense weather system in January 2020, while Mauritius was struck by Tropical Storm Calvinia in December. Several countries are also facing economic challenges which are compounding humanitarian needs, especially in Eswatini, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, where inflation and civil servant strikes have hampered access to essential services, including education and healthcare. In Mozambique, insecurity, particularly in Cabo Delgado, continues to cause protection concerns and displacement. The situation is likely to deteriorate in the months ahead, with forecasts indicating that most countries in the region will experience below-average rains between January and March, hampering agricultural production and increasing the risks of heightened hunger and disease.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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