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Rainfall forecasts suggest a shift in concern to the southeast

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Angola
  • October 2023
Rainfall forecasts suggest a shift in concern to the southeast

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  • Key Messages
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Projected Outlook through May 2024
  • Key Messages
    • The lean season has started and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely in the south where several consecutive years of drought have resulted in very poor crop production. Poor households are increasingly relying on labor migration and hunting small animals. However, casual labor opportunities are lower than the demand, and staple food prices are high. As such, poor households in much of the south and in urban centers are likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected through the April peak of the lean season. Food security improvements are likely starting in May with the cereal harvest. In the southwest, a more favorable harvest than in recent years is likely to lead to greater and longer-lasting improvements in food security. However, in the southeast where rainfall deficits are expected, it’s likely some poor households will harvest minimal crops, and acute food insecurity will be worse than usual in the post-harvest period. 
    • Given the ongoing and forecast El Niño, rainfall across much of southern Africa is expected to be below average. In Angola specifically, forecasts from FEWS NET’s science partners at USGS, NOAA, and UCSB indicate below-average rainfall is most likely in the southeast, while average rainfall is currently considered most likely in the southwest. 
    • Inflation continued its upward trend in September. Key informants suggest many traders are facing challenges paying for imported goods due to the scarcity of forex in commercial banks. The limited supply of imported food coupled with limited supply of local crop production from years of below-average rainfall is putting upward pressure on food prices.   

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

    Source: FEWS NET

    ZoneCurrent AnomaliesProjected Anomalies
    National
    • Angolan oil production has been steadily decreasing from 1.18 million barrels per day (mbpd) in July to 1.12 mbpd in August and 1.11 mbpd in September. This is forcing the government to introduce capital control measures, consequently affecting the amount of forex available to import fertilizers, seeds, and other essential agricultural inputs.   
    • The lack of advanced oil recovery methods, the high cost of entry in newly discovered deep-water oilfields, and low routine maintenance of existing fields due to difficulty acquiring necessary parts will likely lead to further diminished output. Lower oil output results in lower oil exports and foreign currency earnings. This, coupled with high debt service, will likely continue to reduce the ability of the government to import staple foods and fund social safety net programs.
    • Amid lower supply, staple food prices are likely to increase during the lean season at rates that are higher than what is typical (usually 10-20 percent between October and May). 
    Urban areas
    • An increasing number of poor rural households are seeking casual labor opportunities in urban centers to generate income amid persistent drought and lower agricultural labor opportunities. In Luanda, construction of the new airport is increasing labor opportunities in construction and transportation services. Available information from key informants suggests wage rates are near to slightly below average.
    • Luanda’s official month-on-month food inflation in September was 3 percent, slightly exceeding the 2.3 percent national average.
    • As economic conditions worsen, more rural households are expected to seek casual labor opportunities, increasing the supply of labor in urban centers. The government is also expected to start additional construction projects, which will increase seasonal labor opportunities, but the supply of labor is still likely to outpace the demand. Wage rates are expected to persist at average to somewhat below average levels. 
    Southern and parts of central Angola: Huambo, Benguela, Cuando Cubango, and Bie
    • Rainfall throughout the past three seasons has been notably below-average in the south, ranging from 15 percent below average to upwards of 50 percent below average. The largest deficits have been observed in Namibe, Cunene, and Huila during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons.  
    • In the first month of the ongoing October 2023-March 2024 rainy season, rainfall in localized parts of the southwest and southeast has been below average. However, these deficits must be viewed with the understanding that rainfall is typically low in October, at less than 20 mm in the south, and the rainy season starts in earnest in November/December.  
    • Given low soil moisture, preparation for the agricultural season is off to a slow start, reducing income from start-of-season agricultural labor opportunities.  
    • In Cunene and Namibe, nomadic pastoralists are moving permanently with household members to northern Huila and southern Bie.
    • Given the ongoing and forecast strong El Niño, rainfall across much of southern Africa is expected to be below average. In Angola specifically, forecasts from FEWS NET’s science partners at USGS, NOAA, and UCSB indicate below-average rainfall is most likely in the southeast (Cuando Cubango), while average rainfall is currently considered most likely in the southwest (Namibe, Cunene, Huila) and central areas of the country (including Bie). 
    • While average rainfall is forecast for the southwest, soil moisture is forecast to remain below average across southern Angola, as a result of past poor seasons. 
    • With the forecast below-average rainfall, below-average crop production is likely in the southeast. Some improvements in crop production relative to last year are likely in the southwest based on the forecast for average rainfall. 
    • Peak labor demand is likely to occur later in the season, around late November, when rains begin in earnest, but overall demand is likely to be lower than normal. 
    • In Cuando Cubango, where poor households rely more heavily on hunting, cassava, and labor on commercial farms, increased reliance on the sale and consumption of currently stored cassava is likely amid lower agricultural labor opportunities.

    Projected Outlook through May 2024

    As of October 25, 2023, satellite imagery would suggest that less than 25 mm of rainfall has been received in the south of the country, approximately 55-75 percent of average. While in the center and the north of the country, 25-100 mm of rainfall has been received, between 70 and 130 percent of average. However, rainfall is typically low in October and the season begins in earnest around November/December. Given the ongoing and forecast strong El Niño, rainfall across much of southern Africa is expected to be below average. In Angola specifically, forecasts from FEWS NET’s science partners at USGS, NOAA, and UCSB indicate below-average rainfall is most likely in the southeast (Cuando Cubango), while average rainfall is currently considered most likely in the southwest (Namibe, Cunene, Huila) and central areas of the country (including Bie). 

    Figure 1

    Month-on-month and year-on-year inflation, September 2022- September 2023
    Month-on-month and year-on-year inflation, September 2022- September 2023  in Angola

    Source: Angola National Institute of Statistics

    Contrary to last agricultural season, land preparation activities are yet to start in most of the country, with the exception of the center-north provinces where some rains have already fallen. In addition, low soil moisture across the south and in particular in the southwest (following consecutive years of below-average rains) and limited access to inputs (given low second season nacas harvests) is negatively affecting the current cropping season. The 2023-2024 agricultural season is likely to be below average due to this combination of relatively late distribution of inputs, low or absent seed stocks, and low soil moisture in most rural areas. 

    Additionally, pastoralists in Namibe, Cuango, and Benguela are increasingly migrating to Bie and Huila given minimal pasture and water for livestock. This has led to increased livestock deaths over the past few years of drought. 

    Headline inflation continued its upward trend in September (Figure 1) to 15 percent, up from 13.5 in August. The IMF expects the official core inflation to be around 25 percent by the end of the year, far above 14 percent expected by the central bank. However, observations from key informants in Lubango (Chibia), Ondjiva (Cunene), Huambo (São Pedro), Lobito (Benguela), and Mercado do 30 (Luanda) informal markets – where most poor households purchase food – suggest that annual staple food price increases are already above 25 percent. Official inflation statistics for September show transport costs in Namibe and Huila higher than national averages. Key informants also suggest that many traders are facing extreme challenges paying for imported goods due to the scarcity of forex in commercial banks. The limited supply of imported goods coupled with limited supply of local production from years of below-average rains is putting upward pressure on food prices.   

    At this time in the leadup to the main harvest, most poor rural households rely on agricultural labor as a key source of income. While preparation for the season is not yet underway in many rainfed areas, large-scale farms in the southeast are a key source of labor income for poor households, and migration to these farms is ongoing. Though given the low soil moisture across the south, preparation for the season – and associated agricultural labor opportunities – are overall lower than normal. 

    Additionally, poor households are increasingly relying on migration to nearby urban centers in search of casual labor opportunities following lower agricultural labor opportunities. Increased opportunities are available amid new construction projects. Many poor households in urban centers tend to send a young, male household member to work as a motor/taxi driver, and many of these individuals live in large groups to save money to send remittances back to household members remaining in rural areas. While this serves as a key income source, the overall worsening economic conditions and increasing labor supply suggest that labor demand is still higher than the number of people seeking labor. Available information from key informants indicates wage rates are near to slightly below average.

    In the southwest, those who cannot migrate to urban centers for labor are hunting small wild animals for food. There is a relatively high supply of small animals to hunt, and many poor households are able to hunt a surplus, allowing for both consumption and the sale of some animals for income. 

    Poor households also rely on a government safety net (Kwenda program), and the reach of this program has increased from approximately 294,000 people in 2022 to 314,000 people in 2023 according to Social Support Fund (FAS, in Portuguese). The Ministry of Agriculture is coordinating with provincial governments, local municipalities, and the provincial departments of agriculture to start distributing agricultural inputs. Smallholders (those with a plot of land 5 hectares or less) will receive inputs consisting of 5 kg of maize and 5 kg of beans. If they live in the southwest, they will receive 10 kg of sorghum or millet instead of maize. Those living in the most productive areas of Malanje and Cuanza Sul will also get some fertilizer. It is estimated only around 50 percent of smallholder farmers are registered for this program, though. Input distribution is slotted to start with the official announcement of the start of the agricultural season in the last week of October, whereas the more effective planting could occur if inputs were received by the end of September. Small producers (plots between 6 and 50 hectares) will have to apply for credit being provided by the Agricultural Development Support Fund (FADA, in Portuguese) to purchase inputs. 

    The lean season has started in rural areas of the country, and in the southwest where several consecutive years of drought have led to very poor crop production, poor households are increasingly relying on labor migration and hunting small animals. However, casual labor opportunities are lower than the demand for labor, and staple food prices are very high amid poor economic conditions. As such, poor households in much of the southwest and in urban centers are likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to persist thorough the peak of the lean season in March/April, after which improvement in food security is likely with the harvest. Based on the current forecast for average rainfall in the southwest, a more favorable harvest than in recent years is likely to lead to greater improvements in food security. However, this remains highly contingent on this rainfall forecast coming to fruition. Conversely, in the southeast where large rainfall deficits are expected, it’s likely some poor households will harvest minimal crops, and acute food insecurity is likely to be worse in the post-harvest period than is typical. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Angola Remote Monitoring Report October 2023: Rainfall forecasts suggest a shift in concern to the southeast, 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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