Food Security Outlook Update

Agricultural labor wages are lower than normal due to increased competition this season

December 2016

December 2016 - January 2017

Zambia December 2016 Food Security Projections for December to January

February - May 2017

Zambia December 2016 Food Security Projections for February to May

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Some districts in southwestern and southern Zambia including Mambwe district in Eastern Province will have Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes from December to February 2017. From March to May Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected across the country as households access green harvests and own production from the main harvest in April/May.

  • Retail maize and maize meal prices in November continued to increase. Increases of between 6 and 25 percent were recorded in comparison to October. On average, maize and roller maize meal prices were 70 percent and 65 percent above the recent five-year average respectively, limiting staple food access for poor households that are relying mainly on market purchases for their staple needs.  

  • Most parts of the country has received poor to below-average rainfall since mid-November and this has reduced the recommended planting window for maize and other crops. Negative rainfall anomalies were recorded for southern and southwestern Zambia in early December. Recent rainfall in early December initiated planting in some areas and this is ongoing.

Current Situation

  • As projected in the Zambia Food Security Outlook of October 2016 – May 2017, food insecurity outcomes for some populations in districts in southern and southwestern areas and Mambwe district in the Eastern Province are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to the erratic rainfall during the 2015/16 season. Poor households in theses affected areas have run out of own produced food stocks and are relying on market purchases. These households are relying on their income from increased casual labor opportunities, wages are lower than normal this season. Households are also relying on the sale of small livestock, charcoal, and wild foods in order to make needed food purchases. Consumption based coping is not unusual during the normal lean period, but this year households are meeting their minimal needs, but cannot afford essential non-food expenditures because of the high cost of maize currently.
  • Given the average production for maize (2.87 million MT) and moderate carryover stock (667,000 MT), staple food will meet national cereal requirements (2.9 million MT) for the remainder of the marketing season (October 2016 – April 2017). As of November 11th, the FRA was only able to purchase 320,000 out of the needed 500,000 MT for the SGR. A shortfall of 220,000 MT still exists. It is unlikely that the government will subsidize millers with maize during the outlook period given their low stock position. Millers will need to source most maize directly from traders, therefore maize market interventions (including FRA’s supply of subsidized maize to millers) will remain lower than usual.
  • Retail maize and maize meal prices in November continued to increase. Increases of between 6 and 25 percent were recorded in comparison to October. On average, maize and roller maize meal prices were 70 percent and 65 percent above the recent five-year average respectively, limiting staple food access for poor households that are relying mainly on market purchases for their staple needs. 
  • The export ban has been indefinitely extended because the Food Reserve Agency was not able to reach its purchase goal of 500,000 MT of maize for the strategic grain reserves. Formal maize export volumes remained low at 23,069 MT for October, consisting mainly of WFP exports to Malawi and Zimbabwe. In November, 100,000 MT of maize was exported to Malawi/ADMARC on a special government-to-government agreement. The estimated remaining exportable maize surplus is now at 534,000 MT. Field reports indicate continued informal outflows of maize/maize meal to the DRC and Malawi despite the restrictions and security patrols. 
  • Most parts of the country has received poor to below-average rainfall since mid-November and this has reduced the recommended planting window for maize and other crops. Negative rainfall anomalies were recorded for southern and southwestern Zambia in early December (Figure 1). Recent rainfall in early December initiated planting in some areas and this is ongoing. Ideally planting would occur before December 20th. According to the national MET forecast, enhanced rainfall is expected over Lusaka, Central, Southern and Western Provinces, which should provide adequate moisture for planting. 
  • Based on a recent field visit, agricultural input distribution through the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) for both the E-voucher and the physical delivery is late in many districts. While distributions are ongoing there are further challenges with delayed seed supplies. As a result, farmers who cannot access seed on the market have resorted to planting recycled seed and thus compromising on potential yields that may lead to low production. Famers with financial capacity are able to acquire inputs which are readily available on the market.
  • Livestock conditions have improved in many areas with improved pasture and water availability though in some areas in Eastern province water is still scarce, but with the improved rainfall performance this should soon normalize. Improved pastures have benefitted dairy animals and increased milk availability for both sale and consumption.
  • Red locust populations have persisted in the outbreak areas (Kafue Flats and Lukanga swamps). Required annual sprays have not been done and the International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa (IRCOCSA) has appealed to its Member Countries and Development Partners to avail the required resources in time to enable it undertake surveys before rains make most roads impassable and enable timely control.

Updated Assumptions

The assumptions used to develop the most likely scenario for the Zambia October 2016 to May 2017 Outlook period are still valid. 

Projected Outlook through May 2017

Acute food insecurity outcomes likely to remain as Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in most parts of the country due to adequate staple food supplies and continued household access to own food production. However, many will be looking to the market to meet their staple food starting in November once their own stocks run out. Poor households will be earning most of their income from agriculture labor sale. Prices of staples on the market are expected to continue to be high during the December to March period based on current trends and expected increase due to the rise in fuel costs. Consequently, poor households will spend most of their earnings on food purchases between December and March. In the areas of concern in southwestern and southern Zambia, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes will continue into early February. For the period January to February Poor households will continue to depend on the market for staple food purchases but because of higher than average prices many will have difficulties meeting some essential non-food expenditures. Outcomes in these areas will improve and transition to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) from March till the end of the outlook period. During this period poor households in these areas are projected to experience improvements in food access through the green harvest and further increases in food availability with the main harvest in April/May.

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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