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Stressed and Crisis acute food insecurity outcomes expected due to below-average harvests

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Southern Africa
  • April - September 2015
Stressed and Crisis acute food insecurity outcomes expected due to below-average harvests

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  • Key Messages
  • Outlook By Country
  • Events That Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Most countries across the region experienced poor seasonal rainfall characterized by a late start of the season, prolonged dry spells from mid- January through April, poorly distributed rains, and flooding. Regional cereal production is expected to decrease by approximately, 12 and 22 percent from the five-year average and last year, respectively. Significant decreases are expected in southern parts of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Madagascar, Lesotho and South Africa.

    • Most rural households across the region are consuming cereals from this year’s harvest and will likely experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes between April and June. However, in southern parts of Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and Malawi rural households affected by poor rainfall performance will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes during this period.

    • From July to September, areas including southern and central Malawi, Madagascar, southern parts of Zambia, and parts of Lesotho will likely experience Stressed(IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes, while areas in southern Zimbabwe will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).The rest of the region will likely maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. 

    • Despite the estimated below-average maize harvests across the region, particularly in the region’s biggest cereal surplus producing countries (South Africa and Zambia), regional cereal supplies are likely to remain stable from April to September due to significant carryover stock from last year in both South Africa and Zambia.

    Outlook By Country
    • Malawi is expected to experience moderate deficits in domestic food requirements due to reduced food crop prospects caused by flooding and prolonged dry spells this season.
    • In 17 of the flood-affected districts across the country, poor households are receiving humanitarian assistance from April to July. These flood-affect households are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) food security outcomes in the presence of humanitarian assistance for the first four months of the outlook period. This assistance is being distributed prior to the annual national food security assessment that is scheduled to take place in June. Poor households in areas impacted by prolonged periods of dryness will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes during the outlook period.
    • Average maize prices in March are stable and at three-year average levels. However, between April and September, projected national average maize prices are projected to be about 35 percent higher than the three-year average.

    To learn more, read the complete Malawi Food Security Outlook.

    • The majority of rural households throughout the country are experiencing Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1) thanks to access to a combination of various sources of food. The available food includes crops from ongoing harvests, carry-over stocks from last year, market purchases, seasonal foods, and humanitarian assistance. Households are also employing typical livelihood and coping strategies. Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1) are expected through September.
    • Stressed acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) is among the very poor and poor households in the flood-affected areas. The cessation of seasonal rains and notable decreases of all river levels will allow the affected households to resume to their typical livelihoods activities. However, a more targeted humanitarian assistance program is still supplying food, sanitation, water, health care services, and temporary shelter for those in need.
    • Due to a delay in the harvest this season, the start of the seasonal price decrease for maize grain in a few markets is also delayed. In most monitored markets, the change of maize grain prices from February to March was typical and maize grain prices are stable or already decreasing.

    To learn more, read the complete Mozambique Food Security Outlook.

    • Acute food insecurity is expected to remain minimal (IPC Phase 1) in the April to June period as poorer rural households access the little harvest supplemented by limited labor sale. The households will also continue relying on staple food from the market through sale of small livestock extending the lean season as green harvest is relatively low in southern parts of the country.
    • In selected districts where crops wilted and green harvest failed, a small number of severely affected households (less than 20 percent) will be receiving limited relief staple food during the first part of the outlook period. Further food and any non-food assistance will be based on findings of the Vulnerability Assessment Committee whose results will be available by early June.
    • Zambia is generally expected to produce a below average maize output as major producing areas of Southern and Eastern, as well as parts of Central Province, have been affected by poor seasonal progress at key stages of crop development. Given this situation, there will be an increased population requiring food assistance in the second half of the outlook period.

    To learn more, read the complete Zambia Food Security Outlook.

    • Based on the 2014/15 second round crop estimates, national projected cereal production are approximately 48 and 39 percent lower than last year and the five-year average, respectively. Maize production, the preferred staple by most rural households, decreased by approximately 49 percent from last year and by 32 percent from the five-year average. Based on these estimates, the country is expecting a 990,000 MT cereal deficit during the 2015/16 consumption year.
    • Most households in the cereal surplus areas in the north are currently experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes and this is expected to continue through September. However, rural households in the south produced next to nothing this season, so they continue to rely on market purchases for their basic food needs and are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2). In the absence of any assistance, households will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July through September.
    • Very poor households in the south typically receive large assistance flows, however if this assistance does not occur Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food security outcomes are expected between October 2015 and March 2016 in the southern region. Even in the presence of assistance, households would still be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to the above-average retail maize prices expected in the southern areas.

    To learn more, read the complete Zimbabwe Food Security Outlook.

    Countries Monitored Remotelyi
    • Projected above-average harvest production and the increase in market grain supplies are gradually pushing down food prices in most of the country. However, tighter foreign exchange controls might offset grain price decreases, negatively affecting food access for poor households that are market-dependent.
    • Torrential rains continue to negatively affect poor households in and around Lobito. However, currently, there are concerns about the poor public health conditions in the crowded camps, which could prevent household members from seeking work.
    • As the harvest of the 2014/15 agricultural season begins, the current Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes among poor households are expected to continue through June. Between July and September, households will begin to have access to their own produced cereal stocks and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to continue for the post-harvest period. 

    To learn more, read the complete Angola Remote Monitoring Report.

    • The start of main harvests, relative stable food prices supplemented by ongoing safety-net programs will maintain sufficient food access for most households, resulting in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes between April to June 2015. 
    • The drop in own harvests, and low production in South Africa and other exporting countries will likely result in further increases in staple food prices for local and imported maize, reducing the purchasing power for poor households particularly in the June to September period when production will be supplemented by market purchase as in normal years.
    • The low production, limited availability of agricultural income-earning opportunities and anticipated rise in food prices due to high import prices will likely weaken food access and purchasing power of poor households, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from July to September.

    To learn more, read the complete Lesotho Remote Monitoring Report.

    • The onset of rice and maize harvests, and to a lesser extent cassava harvests in some areas, are putting an end to the lean season countrywide and resulting in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes, including southern areas of concern where some households had faced Crisis (IPC Phase 3) during the peak of the lean season.
    • Staple food production in key areas of concern is estimated to be well below average for the second year in a row in key southern areas of concern, including the regions of Atsimo Andrefana and Androy. An early exhaustion of staple food stocks, reduced coping capacity from the previous lean season, and unusually high staple food prices are likely to result in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes between July and September 2015. 

    To learn more, read the complete Madagascar Remote Monitoring Report.

    i With remote monitoring, an analyst typically works from a nearby regional office, relying on a network of partners for data. Compared to countries above, where FEWS NET has a local office, reporting on remote monitoring countries may offer less detail.

    Events That Might Change the Outlook
    AreaEventImpact on Food Security Outcomes
    Cereal deficit parts of the region

    Cross border traders do not

    respond  as  anticipated  and there is  reduced cereal flow to deficit areas

    Significant decrease in cereal supplies in deficit areas resulting in atypically increases in cereal prices. Poor households’ access to cereals through market purchases will be seriously affected and food consumption gaps will increase.
    Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Malawi  and Lesotho 

    Early than usual Humanitarian interventions/ assistance

    Poor and very poor households food gaps will be significantly reduced and household acute food insecurity will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1).


    Export restrictions by  Zambia

    Zimbabwe will face significant maize grain deficits since Zambia is the most preferred source of maize grain imports as their grain is GMO free.



    Figures Current acute food security outcomes, April 2015.

    Figure 1

    Current acute food security outcomes, April 2015.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Seasonal Calendar

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar

    Source: Fews Net

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. Southern Africa CHIRPS 2014/15 cumulative annual rainfall as a percent of normal.

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Figure 4


    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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