Due to the severe El Niño-induced drought affecting the region, the worst in 35 years, as well as floods, an estimated 40 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Out of this, 23 million require immediate humanitarian assistance. In response to this, the Southern African Development Community is appealing for $2.4 billion to support the humanitarian needs of the affected population in some of the Countries. The appeal is in support of on-going planned efforts by SADC Member States and covers all relevant sectors in an effort to enable a holistic approach to the drought, addressing immediate multisectoral humanitarian needs as well as referencing longer term developmental and resilience-building requirements. The international community is hereby formally requested to provide assistance to affected Member States with gaps in their humanitarian response. These are Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
This document firstly provides an overview of the crisis, current and future risks and vulnerabilities.
Secondly, it provides specific sectoral discussions of the implications as regards that particular sector, links with other sectors and recommendations. Thirdly, it provides a summary of the response to date, an analysis of preparedness and response capacity, a discussion on resilience looking beyond the immediate needs, with the final element of the appeal constituting country specific profiles and needs.
An estimated 14 per cent of the SADC population is food insecure, according to the Vulnerability Assessment Results released at the 10th Meeting of the Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (RVAA) held in Pretoria on 10 June 2016.
Nearly 2.7 million children are currently suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in the region.
Of this figure 2 million children are in DRC. In some countries, such as Malawi, it is expected that the food insecurity, coupled with reductions in safe drinking water and sanitation, projected increases in communicable diseases and changes in child care practices will result in increased number of children in need of support. This requires a range of interventions, most critically, the identification, treatment and management of moderate and severe cases of malnutrition. Interventions for the prevention of acute malnutrition will also need to be scaled up.
The severe drought conditions have resulted in widespread crop failure, poor harvests and loss of livelihoods. Cereal harvest assessments indicate nearly 9.3 million tonnes regional shortfall in production. South Africa, usually the main producer of maize in the region, is facing 1.6 million tonnes deficit. Zambia is the only country currently forecasting a cereal surplus (835,000 tonnes) during the 2016/17 marketing year. Livestock, which is a key source of livelihoods for many communities, have not been spared. 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.
Food and nutrition security and strengthening livelihoods are the greatest need. It is estimated that 1.66 million tonnes of maize will be required for immediate food assistance over the next few months up until March 2017. 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.
Poor feeding practices resulting from lack of food will also further compromise people’s immune system and increase the risk of infection due to drinking water scarcity as well as increases in vector borne disease.
Ultimately, the drugs are less effective in virus suppression if not taken with food. Health institutions require support to ensure that they are able to function at optimum levels. For the many people living with HIV uninterrupted access to treatment is crucial to ensure drug adherence and avoid later multi-drug resistance.
Water sources and reservoirs are severely depleted, forcing communities and their livestock to share the same unsafe sources and so increase the risk of disease. The importance of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the response is critical to all sectors and will aim at ensuring affected populations’ access to potable water, sanitation and improved hygiene in its own right; as well as providing critical support to other sectors’ response activities i.e. ensuring adequate WASH services for nutrition; therapeutic feeding in health centres and communities, institutions, and school feeding programmes in the education sector.
Drought, food and water shortages bring an increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) with women and children having to travel ever increasing distances in search of water; movement of displaced persons and often increased tensions within households. When affected by food insecurity, women and girls in particular may be forced into exploitative behaviours, including sexual abuse, to obtain resources for themselves and their families. Women play a key role in household livelihoods, and their knowledge and leadership needs to be incorporated into response planning and implementation. The specific needs of women and girls are often excluded from rapid assessments, and are often not addressed in responses while reliable sex-disaggregated data is lacking for sectoral interventions.
The majority of Southern African countries are facing a negative economic outlook, mainly due to falling commodity prices and weakening currencies, and this is being compounded by the effects of the El Niño drought. This means that development funding will have to be redirected towards emergency relief efforts, which will further affect economic growth. Tourism, an important source of revenue, can also be expected to decrease due to water scarcity and impact on wildlife.
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). In June 2016, SADC convened a meeting of Member States to review and validate the outcomes of national vulnerability assessments which provided most of the required data and information for this appeal.
Ongoing responses in Member States include 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 have been 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.
Five countries (Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe) have declared drought emergencies. South Africa has declared in all provinces except Gauteng and Mozambique has declared an institutional red alert. El Niño-related government preparedness and response plans have been developed or are under development by most countries.
The recurrent nature of the drought crisis, coupled with the numerous economic and social stressors that exacerbate vulnerability in the Southern Africa region call for a two-pronged approach to assist vulnerable populations. Firstly, the region has to address the most acute humanitarian needs and secondly, use a multi-sectoral approach to build the resilience of communities in the region.
The regional transport and logistics networks and systems are deemed to have adequate capacity to handle the surge in imports of humanitarian and relief supplies. However a coordinated transport logistics plan is needed in order to optimise the networks and facilitate supply and distribution. Such a strategy and plan is under development and a coordination framework is also planned. It is being recommended that key policy measures (such as “drought relief cross-border permits” and expedited customs clearance) should be put in place by all SADC countries There is an urgent need for countries in the region to develop capacities that will enable effective integration of global decisions and resolutions for climate action and disaster risk management outlined in the Paris Agreement and the Sendai framework respectively for more resilient risk informed development trajectories’ towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A well-coordinated Member State response will require a strong monitoring framework. The El Niño logistics and coordination team will put systems in place and draw up a Response Monitoring Framework (RMF) covering June 2016 to March 2017, which will track achievements against agreed targets for delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected populations.