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Southern Africa Food Security Outlook Update, July 2020 to January 2021

DR Congo
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Impacts of COVID-19 and drought leads to early depletion of own foods and Crisis (IPC Phase 3)


  • In areas of the region where rainfall performance was poor, households did not receive meaningful harvest and are expected to continue to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Moreover, conflict in DRC and Cabo Delgado of Mozambique continues to disrupt livelihoods and agriculture activities and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are also expected to continue. In areas where the harvest was better and households are consuming own foods, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present. As households deplete staple foods from own production in October, southern parts of Malawi, Lesotho, and northern Zimbabwe will start experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Parts of Ituri province in DRC where conflict is significantly limiting household engagement in normal livelihoods, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are projected to emerge in October.

  • Many poor households in much of the region are currently having difficulty meeting their food and non-food needs as a result of significant loss of income due to COVID-19 related lockdowns in several countries including Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Malawi. and Mozambique. Throughout the projection period, formal and informal employment were significantly affected resulting in loss of income, especially among urban households. In the rural areas, the impacts of COVID-19 on food security were slow partly because of the contribution of the 2020 harvest. Although, there are expected to be medium to long-term impacts due to the likely lower than normal level of remittances and more broadly incomes. Remittances normally provide additional income for food and agriculture input purchases.

  • Typically, from October through January there is an improvement in casual labor income through land preparation, planting, and weeding. Despite the forecast for average rainfall, areas where there have been consecutive poor seasons, better-off households who normally provide such opportunities, are not likely to afford additional labor due to increased expenses towards food purchases. With poor households competing for the limited available opportunities, wages are likely to reduce due to increased labor and will result in poor purchasing power for poor households who will largely depend on market purchases for food. Exceptions will be for households in Malawi where agriculture labor opportunities will likely be average.