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Crisis (IPC Phase 3) expected to continue in southern Angola due to high prices and El Niño

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Angola
  • February 2024
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) expected to continue in southern Angola due to high prices and El Niño

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  • Key Messages
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Current and Projected Anomalies
  • Projected Outlook to September 2024
  • Key Messages
    • Despite sufficiently stocked markets, poor households' access to staple foods remains constrained due to weak purchasing power and above-average staple prices, typical during the peak of the lean season. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present among very poor and poor households in most southern parts of Angola as high food prices and limited access to income keep household purchasing power low. At least one in five households in southern Angola is expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September as below-average harvests, lower-than-normal labor opportunities, and high food prices keep households purchasing power low amid higher-than-normal dependence on market purchases to meet their food needs, especially in Huila, Cuando Cubango, and Cunene.
    • Poor rainfall during the 2023/24 season has resulted in poor cropping conditions in southern Angola. Cumulative rainfall through February is 55 to 85 percent of the 40-year average in most southern areas and is significantly below average in Huila, Cunene, and Cuando Cubango. As of the end of February, the Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) extended to the end of the season indicates that maize cropping conditions in the Southern Cattle, Millet, and Sorghum livelihood zone are mediocre to poor. However, drought-tolerant crops like sorghum and some millets are primarily grown here and are likely less affected by the drought conditions. In the Southern Highlands Agropastoral livelihood zone, where maize is more commonly grown, WRSI indicates maize conditions are average to good. However, dry conditions will likely negatively impact southern Angola's production prospects.
    • Macroeconomic conditions continue to be challenging due to resumed debt payments and fuel subsidy reductions that are triggering the devaluation of the AOA and high inflation. Current prices for staple foods are considerably higher than in past years and are likely to remain high through September. Price increases are expected to be driven by limited market supplies for major staples due to the projected below-average harvests and increased transportation costs linked to the reduction of fuel subsidies. In the drought-affected areas, poor households' access to staple market purchases is likely to remain lower than normal due to weak purchasing power. 

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current and Projected Anomalies
    ZoneCurrent AnomaliesProjected Anomalies
    • Headline inflation has risen from 11 percent in January 2023 to 22 percent in January 2024. The high inflation is leading to high food and non-food prices. 
    • Last year's reduction of fuel subsidies resulted in high transportation costs, particularly for goods from rural areas to urban markets, as costs are passed on to the consumer.
    • Importers' access to forex has been restricted to stabilize the currency after the exchange rate sharply increased from 600 to 800 AOA/USD between June and July 2023.
    • After leaving OPEC in December 2023, oil production increased slightly in January 2024 from 1.12 to 1.14 million barrels per day.
    • Food prices will likely increase due to rising inflation before stabilizing around August. The government will likely continue tight monetary policy and exchange rate management measures to combat inflation. According to the IMF, GDP growth in 2024 is forecast to be higher than in 2023 but lower than previous estimates.
    • The Central Bank is expected to gradually start releasing control of the exchange rate as importation restrictions begin to be implemented in the coming months. The AOA is expected to devalue more slowly than in 2023, partly due to the government's target of slightly increased crude oil production of 1.18 million barrels per day.
    • Farmgate sales and price volatility are expected to improve slightly compared to normal during the main harvest season due to the Strategic Food Reserve recently shifting from imports to local purchases, with which it plans to supply the main market centers of Luanda, Malanje, Huambo, and Lubango.

    Cuando Cubango, Cunene, Moxico, and Bie Provinces


    • In January, concentrated days of above-average rainfall flooded some low-lying areas planted after the rainy season's late start.
    • By the end of February, cumulative rainfall in the four provinces was 70 to 80 percent of the 2000-2018 mean, following significantly below-average rainfall in February.
    • For the southern and eastern provinces, international forecast models anticipate lower than normal rainfall for the March to May period as there is a 50 to 60 percent probability of rainfall being below the lower tercile of average rainfall.
    • Lower than average rainfall in the central province of Bié is expected to slightly lower horticultural production. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, a 15 percent decrease in bean production is expected. This will likely increase prices slightly as Bié is a main regional producer.
    • Harvests are expected to be lower than average in some limited lower-lying areas due to flooding.
    • Opportunities from labor, trade, and livestock pasturing in Namibia are expected to be lower than normal due to the drought impacting labor demand. 

    Projected Outlook to September 2024

    Rainfall performance in most southern parts of Angola has been erratic due to El Niño conditions and a two to four-week delayed start of the season in the extreme southeast areas. Maize is commonly grown in southern Angola, except where more drought-resistant sorghum predominates in Cunene, parts of southern Huila, and parts of Cuando Cubango. Most households in the southern areas planted between mid-November and late December, but several dry spells in January and February resulted in the maize crops suffering significant moisture stress. The maize crop is mainly at the reproductive stage in southern Angola, a water-critical stage for grain development when it was affected by the dry spell (Figure 1). Based on the Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) extended to the end of the season, the maize cropping conditions in most of southern Angola are largely mediocre to poor, increasing the probability of below-average harvests (Figure 2).

    Figure 1

    Maize seasonal progress, as of February 29, 2024
    Map of Maize Progress in Angola Showing Reproductive and Maturation Stages

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Water Requirement Satisfaction Index Extended for maize, as of February 29, 2024
    Map of Angola maize WRSI

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    In the northern and west coastal areas, the agricultural season is progressing normally, supported by average and above-average rainfall received this season (Figure 3). Longer-cycle cassava dominates in the northern provinces, with the smaller maize crop mostly at the reproductive and maturation stages. Most households are expecting average to above-average harvests in these areas. In the northwest of the country (Zaire, Uíge, and Bengo), households have also harvested some horticulture products like cabbage, onion, and lettuce and are currently finishing replanting second-season crops. The harvests will likely support household food needs and labor opportunities.

    Limited access to seeds and fertilizers has contributed to the projected below-average harvests in some southern areas. In Cuando Cubango, for example, very poor households had insufficient income to purchase seeds and relied on government-supplied seeds, which arrived late. Consecutive droughts in the southern areas have resulted in very poor and poor households exhausting their savings, and many could not afford to buy seeds in time for planting. Households who used seed reserves for early planting experienced some crop wilting due to late and erratic early season rainfall, while some later plantings in the second agricultural season are likely to not reach maturity due to low rainfall. However, the sorghum crop is expected to reach maturity due to its drought tolerance. In Cunene, according to informants, the newly introduced Farmer Field School and community gardens have supported household nutrition through increased dietary diversity and overall household food access. These are part of programs coordinated through the Strengthening Resilience and Food and Nutrition Security in Angola project (FRESAN in Portuguese) with government and international agencies. 

    Figure 3

    Seasonal Rainfall accumulation as percent of normal through February 29, 2024
    Map of rainfall in Angola showing 55 to 85 percent in south and east

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Livestock conditions are currently in fair condition, supported by vegetation regeneration, which is typical in February. Vegetation in southern Angola at the end of February is 90 to 95 percent of the long-term mean, according to the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) (Figure 4). However, with international climate models forecasting lower-than-average rainfall from March to May in the southern areas, vegetation regeneration will likely not reach its typical levels by the end of the rainfall season. Poor vegetation conditions will likely affect livestock access to pastures and have negative impacts from August, when pastures are expected to deteriorate earlier than normal. There will likely be slightly lower than average income from seasonal migration, which is important in Cunene and southern Huila. Additionally, from May to September, households in Cunene and southern Huila are likely to face some losses or expenses associated with livestock diseases that are common at that time.

    Figure 4

    Normalized Difference Vegetation Index compared to long-term average, as of February 29, 2024
    Map of Angola NDVI

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    During the rainy season, households typically engage in various activities to earn income for food purchases, but earnings are likely to be lower than normal due to low demand for labor, high costs of transporting charcoal, limited fishing opportunities, and lower-than-normal cross-border trade. In April, most poor and very poor households typically engage in agriculture labor activities, including weeding and harvesting, to earn income for food purchases. However, the anticipated below-average harvest in most southern areas will likely limit agricultural labor opportunities amid lower demand from better-off households equally affected by the drought. Fishing is another source of income during the rainy season, but this activity is likely to be slightly reduced due to the below-average rainfall. Sometimes, poor households in the South sell their produce close to the border for Namibian Dollars for more profit. However, cross-border trade may decline due to below-average harvests in southern Angola. Another source of income, charcoal production, is likely to decline slightly due to reduced urban demand caused by higher transport costs and lower disposable incomes. From June to September, charcoal production usually provides significant income for poor and very poor households in Cunene, southern Huila, and Cuando Cubango. Due to the preceding factors, income is expected to be below average in the southern parts of the country. 

    High inflation and food prices will likely keep household purchasing power lower than normal. Continuing fiscal and macroeconomic challenges are driving the high inflation. Government revenue has been limited by the post-COVID-19 resumption in 2023 of debt repayments and a 13 percent decline in world oil prices since peaking in September 2023. Reduced government expenditure involved reducing fuel subsidies, which, together with the devaluation of the currency, prompted increases in commodity prices (Figure 5). Prices rose by 20 percent for essential items in the basic food basket, with a 10 percent increase in transportation costs for goods in the rural areas of the southern provinces (Figure 6). This trend will likely be exacerbated by the impending further reduction of fuel subsidies, leading to further increases in commodity prices. Urban households are also significantly affected as they are reliant on market purchases to meet their food needs and will likely see their purchasing power decline.

    Figure 5

    Year on Year Inflation and Monthly Exchange rate, Angola
    Chart showing increasing inflation and exchange rate

    Source: National Statistics Institute and National Bank of Angola

    Figure 6

    Month on Month core (Infl.) and food (F.I.) Inflation rate, Angola
    Chart showing increasing core and food inflation

    Source: National Statistics Institute and National Bank of Angola

    Reliable monitoring is needed to better assess acute malnutrition trends in the South and some urban areas because of limited coverage by primary healthcare, rising costs, insufficient supplies of ready-to-use therapeutic food to meet demand, and concerns by development organizations based on field experiences. In some areas of southern provinces, NGOs currently provide supplementary feeding and food basket programs.

    To counteract the effects of higher fuel prices for poor households, in June 2023 the government also increased the size of the Kwenda cash transfers paid through the Social Support Fund (FAS in Portuguese). Transfers reach about 10 to 15 percent of households nationally, but the coverage rate is significantly higher in the targeted poor areas. Beneficiary families receive 66,000 AOA (80 USD) every six months. The cash transfers are likely supporting beneficiaries to purchase food and other essential items in the markets.

    Staple prices are seasonally rising as the lean season peaks, but prices are also higher than recent years. In most southern markets, including Cuando Cubango, a 900-gram cup of maize/cassava flour is sold for 250 AOA. However, the same amount costs between 350 to 450 AOA in markets further away from high-production zones. According to local informants, prices for major staple foods, including maize and cassava flour, have increased by approximately 100 percent since last year and are significantly above the official inflation figures for the overall food basket. These prices are expected to increase further as suppliers strategically withhold wheat flour and maize meal from the market in anticipation of food price hikes caused by reduced diesel subsidies. These items will likely re-enter the market at elevated prices once the subsidy adjustments occur. For most southern areas affected by the El Niño drought, market supplies will also likely decrease and trigger staple price increases, which most very poor households cannot afford due to weak purchasing power.

    As the lean season peaks in March, at least one in five households in southern Angola are expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as high food and transportation costs and limited access to income keep their access to food from market purchases lower than normal. By late May, household food access will likely improve with the start of the harvest as households start consuming their own produced staple foods. However, due to the impacts of late and erratic rainfall and the dry spells in January and February, many very poor households in Huila, Cuando Cubango, and Cunene will likely only have small harvests and will mainly rely on market purchases to meet their food needs. Given the likely continuation of high prices and the projected decreases in agricultural labor opportunities during the harvest period due to drought, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to remain present through September. However, in the rest of the country, where rainfall performance was near average, poor households are likely to have sufficient access to staple foods and will likely face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes throughout the scenario period.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Angola Remote Monitoring Report February 2024: Crisis (IPC Phase 3) expected to continue in southern Angola due to high prices and El Niño, 2024.

    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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