Humanitarian assistance needs during the lean season are expected to be atypically high
The number of people in need of urgent humanitarian food assistance is atypically high and projected to peak in February 2020. Currently, most of the region is experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The worse affected areas are mostly observed in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, southern parts of Malawi, and areas of DRC affected by conflict. The worst affected areas of Zimbabwe where the harvest was below average and households purchasing power is extremely limited, some households are expected to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
In many areas of the region, households are increasingly reliant on market purchases for food; however, market prices are above average. In Mozambique and Malawi, maize grain prices continue to increase and in August prices were 25 and nearly 75 percent above the five-year average, respectively. Zimbabwe maize grain prices continued to very rapidly increase due to a combination of high demand and inflation. Due to the maize trade ban in Zambia, the price of maize meal in DRC doubled from July to August. Alternatively, staple food prices in Madagascar decreased or remained stable as most households are still consuming own foods.
Household engagement in non-agriculture labor remains below average as opportunities such as brick molding, house thatching and sales of thatching grass are reportedly below average. Better off households who were also affected by the drought and by conflict in DRC are prioritizing money for staple purchase. Households also typically engage in vegetable gardening for both food and income, but these opportunities were limited due to below average soil moisture in some areas. However, in tropical cyclone affected areas, above average soil moisture facilitated vegetable production and agriculture labor opportunities. Although, labor wages and income are still below average.
Livestock body conditions across parts of the region are deteriorating due to limited pasture and water availability. In southern parts of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, livestock deaths have been reported. Livestock deaths are expected to increase until the start of the rains in November when pastures start to regenerate. Household incomes from livestock sales are also expected to decrease due to poor body conditions and likely desperate sales.