Heavy rainfall since the beginning of January has led to riverine and flash floods in Zambia, mainly in the Southern Province, with Gwembe and Mambwe districts hardest-hit. The flooding has destroyed crops, including maize, in some of the areas heavily impacted by the last season drought, according to the Government’s Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU). In addition, erratic rains and dry spells at the beginning of the rainy season in November had already compromised the planting period in the Southern Region.
These recurrent climatic shocks could aggravate the already fragile food insecurity situation in Zambia. Before the floods, more than 2.3 million people were expected to be severely food insecure during the current lean season (October 2019 – March 2020), with at least 412,000 of them in Emergency levels according to the latest Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) report.
The drought has increased the risk of communicable disease and raised protection concerns. At least 64 per cent of the affected population relies on unsafe water sources and 95 per cent do not treat their water before use. Women have to walk longer distances to fetch water and increased cases of gender-based violence are being reported. With not enough food at home, children are more likely to dropout from school, and there are reports indicating that 75 per cent of children in Gwembe and Shongombo districts missed school two to three times a week since the third term started in October 2019.
Food distributions have taken place in seven districts, and nutrition, education, WASH, health and protection interventions are being implemented. More funding is, however, required urgently to prevent the humanitarian situation from deteriorating as the country approaches the peak of the lean season.