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Southern Africa: Drought - Nov 2018

Status
Ongoing
Countries
Malawi
+ 10 more
Disaster types
Drought

The number of severely food insecure people in Southern Africa rose to an estimated 9.6 million at the start of the lean season (October 2018 to April 2019), due to an increase of 1.1 million people in Malawi. Malawi, which now has an estimated 3.3 million people in Crisis or Emergency (IPC phase 3 and 4), and Zimbabwe, where nearly 2.4 million people are in Crisis or Emergency, have the highest numbers of severely food insecure people in the region. Meanwhile, three districts in Zimbabwe and two districts in Madagascar were classified in Emergency (IPC phase 4) at the outset of the lean season, as a result of extreme loss of livelihood assets. There are also pockets of people facing Emergency food insecurity (IPC phase 4) in Eswatini, Lesotho and Mozambique. (OCHA, 26 Nov 2018)

Since the start of the 2018/19 cropping season in October, anomalous dry conditions have developed across parts of Southern Africa, with more intense moisture deficits registered in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, in addition to the western parts of Madagascar. Although there are a few months remaining in the cropping season, with the main harvest period usually commencing in April, the impact of the reduced rains is expected to have caused a contraction in the area planted and lowered yield prospects, particularly in the aforementioned areas. Heavier rainfall since mid‑December provided some respite and helped to alleviate moisture deficits, but concurrently resulted in localized flooding in parts of Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. (GIEWS, 22 Jan 2019)

Approximately 10.8 million people were facing severe food insecurity in Southern Africa as 2018 came to an end. In Eswatini, the estimated number of people facing Crisis (IPC phase 3) or worse food insecurity more than doubled from 120,000 in October to nearly 250,000 in December. In Zimbabwe, where 2.4 million people in rural areas were severely food insecure, the deteriorating economic situation caused sharp price increases and hampered access to food and agricultural inputs. Shortages of basic food commodities in formal markets, including cooking oil, sugar and bread, were reported, especially in remote areas. In Mozambique, more than 1.78 million people were in IPC phase 3 or above across the country, of whom 814,000 people in five provinces were prioritized for urgent humanitarian assistance. Further attacks by non-state armed actors were reported in Cabo Delgado province in November, increasing food security and malnutrition concerns. Meanwhile, in Madagascar, a Flash Appeal was launched to galvanize funding for rapid response in the Grand Sud region, where 890,000 people are severely food insecure. (OCHA, 22 Jan 2019)

FEWS NET anticipates the next lean season will most likely start atypically early in August/September in several areas of the region, and households will have limited purchasing power due to lower incomes. Additionally, household access to milk will be lower than normal driven by poor livestock body conditions. Consequently, atypically high levels of acute food insecurity are likely during the 2019/20 lean season in most countries across the region, except in Madagascar, Malawi, and northern Mozambique. Atypically high needs will also be driven by conflict in DRC and poor macroeconomic conditions in Zimbabwe. Although outcomes are not expected to be as severe as those following the 2015/16 drought, humanitarian partners should prepare for a likely earlier than normal start to the 2019/20 lean season and higher than normal food assistance needs during this time. (FEWS NET, 1 Feb 2019)

President Hage Geingob [of Namibia] yesterday declared the current drought affecting 23 arid and semi-arid counties and pockets of other areas a national disaster. Since 2013, most parts of Namibia recorded below normal rainfall, thereby leaving the grazing land exhausted and with little recovery. (New Era, 7 May 2019)