• Significant rainfall deficits in Southern and Western provinces have sharply reduced national cereal crop production prospects.
• Prices of maize products have sharply increased since late 2018 due to low supply.
• Food insecurity is expected to worsen in 58 drought-affected districts in the southern and western parts of the country.
• A total of $89.5 million are required to provide life-saving and early recovery assistance to 2.3 million people.
More than 2.3 million people are expected to be severely food insecure during the lean season (October - March), with at least 430,000 of them in Emergency levels (IPC 4), according to the last Zambia Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZVAC) / IPC report. The devastating combination of prolonged and severe drought in the southern part of the country over the last two rainy seasons and floods in the north has driven increasing hunger. According to the Zambia Meteorological Department (ZMD), 2018-2019 rainfall season was one of the poorest the southern half of Zambia has faced since 1981, negatively impacting crop production and consequently food availability and food access. Pest infestations and livestock diseases outbreaks, including foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and fall army worm compounded the situation.
A total of 58 districts registered a huge decline in maize production, the main staple food. Three districts, including Luanga, Shang’ombo and Gwembe are projected to increase to IPC Phase 4 between October 2019 and March 2020. The situation is especially concerning in Gwembe district, in the Southern Province, which recorded a 98 per cent reduction in maize production, compared to last year and the five-year average. The district had the highest proportion of households that reported to have sold more than unusual amount of livestock. At national level, about 16 per cent decline in production has been registered (from 2,394,907 metric tons produced last season to 2,004,389 metric tons the current one).
The 2019 Vulnerability Assessment has revealed an increase in severe acute malnutrition levels. Acute malnutrition (wasting) has a prevalence of nearly 6 per cent across the nine provinces of Zambia. Out of the 87 districts assessed, 24 indicated prevalence of wasting above the national prevalence of 4 per cent. The highest levels of wasting were registered in the districts of the Western Province, including Shang’ombo (33 per cent), Sioma (29 per cent) and Kalabo (21 per cent). Other districts with medium severity of wasting include Mongu,
Limulunga, Luano and Ngabwe, with the prevalence of 11 per cent each. Siavonga, Sinazongwe, Kazugula, Namwala, Lunga, Kaoma and Nkeyema indicate medium wasting prevalence of 10 per cent.
Diminishing access to clean water has increased the risk of communicable disease outbreaks, such as typhoid and cholera. In areas affected by drought, 64 per cent of the population relies on unsafe sources to collect water and 95 per cent do not treat their water for use. Open defecation is a common practice and only 11.2 per cent of the population use improved latrines.