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Favorable food security conditions expected to prevail across the region

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Southern Africa
  • July 2013
Favorable food security conditions expected to prevail across the region

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Increased food supplies from ongoing harvests continue to improve food access among poor households. Most rural farming households are accessing food from own produced stocks and supplementing this with food from purchases and through in-kind labor exchanges. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food acute food insecurity outcomes are projected through September, with the exception of a few localized areas.

    • Tradable national and regional cereal supplies are projected to be tighter in the 2013/14 marketing season due to localized production challenges and generally lower carry-over stocks. Improved household food stocks and adequate supplies on local markets are contributing to declining price trends. 

    • However, given that staple food prices have remained higher than their respective 2012 and five-year average levels, food access for poorer households is likely to be constrained earlier than the normal October start of the lean season, especially in localized areas that experienced production shortfalls. 

    • The results of ongoing vulnerability and food security assessments are expected in mid-July and will identify the populations at risk of food insecurity during the 2013/14 consumption period and the level and type of assistance that will be required.

    Current Situation

    Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes prevail across the region as food availability continues to improve due to ongoing harvests, stable market supplies, declining staple food prices, and increased incomes from sale of staple and cash crops. These outcomes are projected to persist over most parts of the region through September, with the exception of for a few localized areas in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.  Maize prices are generally expected to follow the normal declining trend of the harvest period, however price levels will likely remain above both last year’s and the five-year average on most of the region’s reference markets.  These higher levels are a residual effect of the steep price increases experienced in countries during the 2012/13 consumption period. Higher price levels are likely to be sustained throughout the 2013/14 consumption period in view of the tight regional supplies due to reduced tradable surpluses among the main maize producing countries of the region (Table 1).  


    • Households in most parts of the country are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes through September as food and cash crop harvests continue. However, poor households in some districts in Southern Lakeshore (SLA), Kasungu Lilongwe Plains (KAS), Mzimba Self Sufficient (MZS), and Western Rumphi and Mzimba (WRM) livelihood zones that experienced lower production due to mid-season dry spells are projected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during the July to September period as households begin to deplete their food stocks and incomes from crop sales.


    • In most parts of the country, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes will continue through September among rural households. Food prices are expected to decline, following seasonal trends as harvested supplies (estimated to be better than last year) continue flowing into markets across the country. However, Chókwe district, and the southern areas of Guijá and Chibuto districts that were affected by January floods are projected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), in the presence of assistance.


    • The recently completed assessment by the Zambia Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) indicates that most parts of the country are projected to maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes during the July to September period. Many rural households will access food from own production and/or adequately supplied markets. Maize grain prices are declining and following seasonal trends. However, a small proportion (<20 percent) of households in 18 districts of concern will face livelihood protection deficits during this period.  Additionally, earlier than normal price increases are likely as traders begin to face higher fuel prices, which is expected to result in higher priced food commodities.


    • Most households in the surplus producing areas in northern Zimbabwe are expected to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes through July, however poor rural households in southern districts are currently experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as a result of reduced harvests due to poor rainfall distribution and mid-season dry spells.


    • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, in the presence of humanitarian assistance, are projected through to September with very poor and poor households accessing food from own production, market purchases, and through in-kind labor exchange. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not changed the regional assumptions used in the May Food Security Outlook for the period of April – September 2013. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the Southern Africa May 2013 Food Security Outlook.

    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    Favorable food security conditions continue in most parts of the region and access to food at the household level is increasing due to improved food availability from harvests, increasing supplies in local markets, and declining food prices. Most households will meet their food and livelihood protection needs from own production and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes are projected for most parts of the region through September. For market dependent households, access to food will be improved by reduced food prices. Despite this, maize prices are expected to remain above last year’s and the five-year average. Sustained higher food price levels are expected to constrain food access for poorer market dependent households earlier than the normal start of the lean season (October), eroding purchasing power, especially given that labor opportunities are usually limited after harvesting. 

    Figures SADC preliminary supply/demand projections: 2013/14 compared to 2012/13 and 2011/12 (‘000 MT).

    Figure 1

    SADC preliminary supply/demand projections: 2013/14 compared to 2012/13 and 2011/12 (‘000 MT).

    Source: SADC National Early Warning Units and Central Statistics Office

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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