Erratic and below average rainfall in parts of the region affect ongoing planting activities
Many areas across Southern Africa continue to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, including most of Zimbabwe, eastern DRC, southern Madagascar and Malawi, and parts of Mozambique. These outcomes are mostly driven by many poor households relying on markets for food with significantly above average maize grain prices. Additionally, deteriorating macroeconomic conditions in Zimbabwe and conflict in DRC are impacting livelihoods and access to food. Humanitarian food assistance is improving outcomes across most of Mozambique and parts of Zimbabwe and southern Madagascar to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!). These outcomes are expected to persist in these areas until the next harvest in April 2020.
The 2019/20 season started with erratic rainfall across most areas. October through early December rainfall has been 55 to 85 percent of normal across much of the region. The most affected areas are most of Lesotho, central and southern Mozambique, Madagascar, South Africa, and parts of western and southern Zambia. Planting is underway in most parts of the region, below average rainfall in the aforementioned areas as well as the poor macroeconomy in Zimbabwe is negatively affecting planting and germination rates. With a forecast of below average rainfall from January to May 2020, many areas of the region are likely to face a second consecutive poor rainfall season and harvest.
High staple prices in the region are contributing to below-average purchasing power for a significant number of poor households. Atypically high staple food prices are being experienced in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. Given that many poor households depend on market purchases especially during the lean season, high staple prices are restricting household food access. In the main regional markets in South Africa, maize grain prices on the SAFEX market were stable from September to October. However, prices were trending 5 to 10 percent above the five-year average.