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Southern Africa: Humanitarian Snapshot (January - February 2019)

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An estimated 5.3 million people in Zimbabwe are in need of humanitarian assistance due to the impact of erratic rainfall and the economic crisis. This includes nearly 3.8 million people in rural areas, of whom 2.9 million are severely food insecure and a further 900,000 people currently receiving humanitarian assistance, without which they would be in IPC phase 3 or above. In addition, 1.5 million people in urban areas are estimated to be facing severe food insecurity, while people in multiple locations across the country are faced with acute shortages of essential medicines. Rising food insecurity has heightened the risk of gender-based violence, particularly for women and girls. It has also uniquely impacted people living with HIV, who are unable to take anti-retrovirals on an empty stomach.

Large parts of central and south-eastern Southern Africa experienced the consequences of late onset and below-average rains in January and February, while other areas experienced floods and landslides. Dry conditions affected staple food production across Angola, Lesotho, southern Mozambique, Zambia,

Zimbabwe, central South Africa and northern Namibia. Meanwhile, in Malawi, flooding in Chikwawa district affected over 5,400 people in January, leading to loss of crops. In Madagascar, two tropical cyclones affected more than 30,200 people in January and February, leaving over 2,900 temporarily displaced and 78 dead. In central Mozambique, Tropical Storm Desmond caused flooding, killing three people and displacing more than 7,100. The chance of an El Niño in the coming months is now 65 per cent, down from 80 per cent in December.

More than 1,100 people–mostly children–have died due to an escalating measles outbreak affecting all 22 regions of Madagascar. Over 79,000 cases were reported between 3 September 2018 and 28 February 2019.

The total number of people affected by the outbreak could be even higher, as cases at the community level are often underreported. Meanwhile, a reduction in plague cases was reported, with only seven districts recording new cases in February. Separately, an outbreak of cutaneous anthrax was identified in Moshi district of Kilimanjaro region in Tanzania, with seven human cases and two deaths reported in February. A new wave of cholera affected three regions (Arusha, Kigoma, Manyara and Tanga) of Tanzania from 26 January, and a new outbreak was confirmed in Zambia after a case presented to the hospital on 29 January. In Zimbabwe, 62 cases of cholera–including four deaths–have been reported since the beginning of 2019, while a new wave of typhoid fever in Harare starting in mid-September 2018 has resulted in nearly 3,200 suspected cases until mid-January this year.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit