Impacts of drought, COVID-19, and conflict driving increased acute food insecurity in Southern Africa
Poor households in low production areas, including southern parts of Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi, and greater parts of Zimbabwe and conflict-affected areas of DRC are expected to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through May. In these areas, own produced food was enough for only up to three months and since September, they started relying mainly on market purchases. From October to January, parts of Ituri Province worst-affected by conflict in DRC and some households in southern Madagascar affected by consecutive droughts are expected to experience Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.
Parts of the region have started receiving sporadic rainfall; however, the 2020/21 rainfall season had yet to start across many areas as of late-October. Some households have started planting in some areas of FEWS NET monitored countries where rainfall has fallen; however, this is not widespread. This is particularly important for poor households in deficit areas who need income from casual labor for market purchases. However, as more poor households seek casual labor opportunities, increasing labor supply, and generally wage rates are likely to be lower than average and affect household purchasing power.
- The 2020/21 period's overall seasonal performance is expected to be favorable with a forecast for average rainfall with above-average rainfall most likely in Northern Malawi and Mozambique. This is leading to favorable production prospects across the region. Timely and good rainfall performance will also result in households improving food consumption from March when the green harvest is expected, followed by the main harvest in April and May.
In most parts of the region, COVID-19 related lockdowns have since been suspended and relaxed. Despite these improvements, poor households in urban and peri-urban areas continue facing difficulties obtaining sufficient food and income as most formal and informal businesses are still operating at minimal levels. For some countries, in October restrictions on key activities like cross border trade continued. With limited income to purchase food from markets, the worst-affected poor urban and peri-urban households in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, and DRC are experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the impacts of the COVID-19 restriction measures, which affected income through both formal and informal employment.
About Scenario Development
To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.