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Low rainfall threatens crop production in the southwest

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Angola
  • April 2023
Low rainfall threatens crop production in the southwest

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  • Key Messages
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Projected Outlook through September 2023
  • Key Messages
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist in Huila, Namibe, and Cunene of Angola as the lean season continues longer than normal amid later than normal crop harvesting. Poor households in these areas face low access to food and income as a result of consecutive below-average rainy seasons that have caused years of low livestock and crop production.

    • Crop production in 2023 is favorable across much of the country, and the availability of locally produced crops – alongside improving economic conditions – is driving declining staple food prices in much of the country. However, these price trends are not being observed in the southwest, where below average crop production is expected due to poor 2020-2023 rainfall and a recent infestation of armyworm.

    • Angola’s economic performance continues to gradually improve, with inflation decreasing to 10.81 percent in March 2023, down from over 25 percent a year ago. Improved economic performance is driven in large part by the adoption of expansionary monetary policy, increased investment in agricultural projects, and the transition to a flexible exchange rate.

    • While the harvest is expected to be below average in southwestern areas of concern, it will still improve food security. The harvest, alongside seasonally declining food prices, will support poor households accessing food both from own production and markets between June and September 2023. As such, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are most likely at the area-level during this time, though some very poor households are still expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).  


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Seasonal calendar for a typical year, Angola

     

    ZoneCurrent AnomaliesProjected Anomalies
    National
    • The increase in food availability from earlier-than-normal harvests in the north of the country, coupled with declining food inflation, are together increasing food availability through lower food prices.  
    • The trend of gradual economic improvement is likely to persist in the projection period. This, alongside a favorable harvest in most of the country, is expected to keep food prices lower than the same period last year and close to average.  
     
    Huila
    • An infestation of armyworm in western municipalities of Huila is resulting in crop damage. Available information suggests affected households lost a portion, but not all, of their crops.
    • Given current damage to crops and the expectation that pest control will be low, the Ministry of Agriculture estimates crop losses in Huila will be upwards of 10 percent. This is expected to negatively affect poor households, in particular in Gambos municipality. Typically, poor households affected by drought-related crop losses would cope through community support; however, given the years of protracted drought, it’s likely some households will not have access to typical support mechanisms. This has the potential to instead increase the internally displaced population, as nearby camps offer the hope of shelter and food assistance. Though available information from UNICEF suggests that around 20 percent of the population of Huila’s displacement settlements are not being reached with assistance, given limited resources.
     
    Namibe and Cunene
    • Rainfall through April, the end of the rainy season, continued to be very low in Namibe and Cunene. While rainfall totals were still higher than that received in 2018/19, rainfall amounts are approximately 60 percent of average. This has negatively affected crop production and resulted in vegetation conditions that are well below typical levels.
    • As a result of likely low crop production in these areas (in line with what was anticipated in FEWS NET’s February Remote Monitoring Report), households are likely to rely increasingly on livestock. Livestock from the southwest are already trekked long distances in search of pasture and water, given shortages within Namibe and Cunene, and many households will likely remain away from homesteads for longer than normal periods to support livestock health. Livestock body conditions, milk productivity, and sale value are all likely to be lower than normal, given the pasture and water shortages.
    • Similar to Huila, crop and livestock losses have the potential to increase the internally displaced population, as nearby camps offer the hope of shelter and food assistance. However, available information from OCHA suggests that over 85 percent of the population in Cunene’s displacement settlements are not being reached with assistance given limited resources.
     

    Projected Outlook through September 2023

    Rainfall between February and April of 2023 was well below average in Namibe and Cunene. While rainfall totals were still higher than that received in 2018/19 (Figure 1), total cumulative rainfall by the end of April – which typically marks the end of the rainy season – was still roughly 40 percent below average. Ground reports and satellite-derived imagery on vegetation conditions both suggest the poor performance of the rainy season has negatively affected crop production. Overall, crop production in Namibe and Cunene is expected to be below average, as also forecast in FEWS NET’s February Remote Monitoring Update.

    While rainfall totals have been relatively better in Huila, an infestation of armyworm has caused some crop damage and, given the expectation that pest control operations will be relatively low, the Ministry of Agriculture estimates crop losses in Huila will be upwards of 10 percent. This is expected to negatively affect poor households, in particular in Gambos region where the infestation is concentrated. Typically, poor households affected by crop losses would cope through community support and increasingly relying on livestock. However, in Namibe and Cunene where rainfall was well below average, livestock are already trekked long distances from homesteads in search of pasture and water. Many livestock-rearing households from the southwest are likely to remain away from homesteads for longer than normal periods to support livestock health. Livestock body conditions, milk productivity, and sale value are all likely to be lower than normal, given the pasture and water shortages.

    The crop and livestock losses also risk increasing the displaced population, as nearby camps offer the hope of shelter and food assistance. However, available information from UNICEF suggests that around 20 percent of the population in Huila’s displacement settlements and over 85 percent of the population in Cunene’s settlements are not being reached with assistance given limited resources.

    Economic performance in Angola continues to gradually improve, with the Bank of Angola decreasing its lending rate to 17 percent from 18 percent, a decision that reflects the continued decline in inflation from 11.5 percent in February to 10.81 percent in March, down over 25 percent from a year ago (Figure 2). The Kwanza’s strong appreciation has supported a moderation in inflation, but weaker global oil prices could slow the pace of disinflation in the coming months. The increased economic performance was driven by a robust non-oil economy following the adoption of expansionary monetary policy and the development of government-backed credit provision programs which allowed increased investment in agricultural projects, transport and warehousing, and trade.

    Figure 1

    Cumulative rainfall in Namibe during the 2022-2023 season relative to 2018-2019 and the 2000-2018 average, according to RFE data
    Cumulative rainfall in Namibe during the 2022-2023 season relative to 2018-2019 and the 2000-2018 average, according to RFE data

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Annual inflation rate, Angola, in percentage
    Annual inflation rate, Angola, in percentage

    Source: Angola’s National Statistics Institute

    At the same time, the earlier-than-normal and favorable harvests in provinces outside of the southwest have been increasing the supply of cereals and vegetables across markets. The increased food supply and improving economic performance, which has in turn driven an increase in food imports, are together putting downward pressure on staple food prices. The Strategic Food Reserve (REA) reports that rice imports increased by 8 percent between February and April, while wheat flour imports increased by 6 percent, sugar imports increased by 5 percent, soy oil imports increased by 8 percent, and bean imports increased by 11 percent (trends not driven by seasonal differences in import levels). Food inflation has declined to 7.63 percent, compared to 8.52 percent last month and 30.4 percent in the same period last year.

    However, these declining price trends are not being observed in the southwest of the country. Although price data is not available, key informants are reporting that food prices remain unseasonably high, and this is likely due to the expectation of below-average local production and poor road access that has made it difficult to fully and regularly supply local markets.  

    As the harvest season approaches, many poor households are engaged in casual agricultural labor on local farms. Available information suggests that casual agricultural labor is available at normal levels across much of the country, though it is below average in the southwest given the consecutive seasons of poor rainfall and lower than normal crop production. In much of the southwest, the lower crop production coupled with higher supply of labor, as many poor households seek additional labor income to compensate for crop losses, is reportedly putting downward pressure on wages.

    WFP recently conducted a rapid rural appraisal of the impact of their food vouchers, and although information on the impact is not available to FEWS NET, it is understood that they are assisting around 15,000 people with vouchers equating to 50 USD per month, among whom around 6,500 refugees in the northeastern province of Lunda are beneficiaries.

    Information on food security and nutrition outcomes remains limited. However, the Ministry of Health and World Vision International recently assessed malnutrition through a rapid assessment in Namibe, Cunene, Huila, Cuando-Cubango, and Benguela. The results suggested that around 5 percent of children under five years of age are acutely malnourished based on weight-for-height z-score (WHZ). An estimated 6,550 moderately or severely malnourished children between 6 and 59 months were rehabilitated between November and April, based on Ministry of Health, among the approximately 68,500 malnourished children.

    Given poor households’ relatively low access to food and income given consecutive years of drought, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in Huila, Namibe, and Cunene in April. While the harvest is likely to be below average in these areas of concern, it will still be sufficient to drive food security improvements alongside declining food prices, as poor households access food both from own production and markets. As such, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are most likely at the area-level between June and September, though some very poor households are still expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).  

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Angola Remote Monitoring Update, April 2023: Low rainfall threatens crop production in the southwest, 2023

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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