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Good regional harvests maintain stable food security outcomes in many parts of the region

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Southern Africa
  • July - December 2014
Good regional harvests maintain stable food security outcomes in many parts of the region

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  • Key Messages
  • Outlook By Country
  • Events That Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Most rural households across the region will maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes between July and September. However in localized parts of Lesotho, DRC, Swaziland, Malawi, and Madagascar poor households are projected to face mainly Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and some Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes from October through December due to high prices of food and low incomes in addition to low production.

    • Regional cereal production estimates for 2013/14 show an increased availability by 17 and 19 percent above last year and the past five-year average, and is 2 percent above the regional annual requirements – covering the import needs of deficit countries and leaving a surplus that could be exported outside of the region (Table 1). 

    • Prices are expected to be stable and to follow seasonal trends on most reference markets across the region due to increased market supply and reduced demand during the current harvest period. In deficit areas prices are likely to remain above 2013 and five-year average due to relative higher demand while in surplus areas, it is likely that price levels will be similar to respective 2013 levels, while remaining close to the five-year average.   

    • The 2014 national vulnerability assessments findings released in July point to decreasing levels of food insecurity across the region. The number of food insecure households has declined significantly from last year and the five-year average by 52 and 45 percent respectively mostly attributed to increased production across the region (Table 2). 

    • Seasonal rainfall is expected to start according to climatology and will be near average in terms of amount with variability in the start of the season is expected to follow climatological trends. The start and performance of the 2014/15 agriculture season may be influenced by the forecasted high chances of El Nino conditions which typically is associated with tendency for above average rainfall in north-eastern and south-western parts of the region in October-December and likelihood for below average rainfall in southern parts of the region for December -March. However there are several climatic factors other than El Nino that also affect region’s climate which will be included in the official seasonal forecasts to be issued at SARCOF in late August 2014. 

    Outlook By Country


    • Estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development indicate that 2013/14 maize production is approximately 9 percent higher than the previous season and 12 percent higher than the five-year average. Overall, a 1.5 million MT surplus in maize is expected with some increases ranging from 7 to 10 percent among other food crop production.
    • The average national maize price decreased in June, according to seasonal trends, but continues to be 60 percent above the five-year average. Prices are expected to rise over between July and December, but they will be lower than those recorded during the same period last year.
    • Extended periods of dryness, poor rainfall distribution, and an early cessation of rainfall affected localized production in parts of the Middle Shire and Central Karonga livelihood zone. Currently poor households in Karonga, Balaka, Neno, and Mwanza district are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and outcomes are expected to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between August and December

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


    • The majority of rural households in the country are currently facing Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1). Households are meeting their basic food needs through continued food availability in markets, access to a variety of own produced foods, and from the ongoing second cropping season in limited areas.
    • Most of the main monitored markets are adequately supplied with staple food and commodities. Generally the food prices are expected to remain close to the five-year average. Maize prices in particular are expected to remain slightly above or below the five-year average in all monitored markets thanks to current production levels.  However, prices for beans will remain the same or higher than the previous year.
    • From July to September, food insecurity outcomes will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) among poorer rural households. Households in the central and southern areas affected by mild flooding earlier this year will be able to meet their basic food needs through consumption of food harvested from the 2013/14 cropping season and market purchases. Between October and December, food insecurity outcomes will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) for the majority of poor households. As the lean season begins during this period, households will expand their typical livelihood strategies in order to meet their food requirements.

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


    • Acute food insecurity outcomes are expected to remain at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels through December 2014. The maize harvest of 3.35 million MT, following five years of consecutive surplus production has enabled majority rural households to have adequate staple food stocks and therefore mostly depend on own production. In addition, rural farming households are accessing a variety of basic foods from the harvest.
    • Although maize prices fell seasonally after the harvest, unexpected price increases have been recorded in July within Lusaka following the announcement of a nine percent increase in the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) maize buying price. Recent price increases are likely due to farmers temporarily holding on to their maize in anticipation of sales to FRA. Consequently, maize meal prices will likely be sustained at high levels up to August to the disadvantage of market-dependent consumers.
    • In view of the likelihood of an El Nino developing by the start of the 2014/15 season and based on past El Nino years, there is a 40 percent chance of southern Zambia experiencing below-normal rainfall in the early part of the season (November to December). Farmers will need to prepare for this to mitigate effects of possible reduced rainfall.

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


    • Households are currently accessing adequate quantities of staple from own production and experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes. Minimal outcomes are expected to continue through December, however by November some very poor households will start complimenting own production with market purchases in some parts in the south (Matobo, Mangwe, and Zaka districts) and north (Mudzi, Mbire, Mutoko districts) of the country.
    • The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) rural livelihoods assessment completed in June this year, estimates that 5.8 percent of the rural population will be food insecure during the peak lean season (January-March 2015). This estimate has decreased by about 70 percent from the peak figure of 2.2 million in the 2013/14 consumption year.
    • Based on field observations in July, markets including those in the traditionally cereal deficit southwestern part of the country are fully supplied with staple. Increased staple supplies has resulted in a 17 percent decrease in the national average maize grain price when compared to the same time last year.

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

    Countries Monitored Remotely[i]


    • As the agricultural season progresses, overall production is considered to be good this season. The five provinces accountable for most of production are Kuanza-sul, Huambo, Bié, Malanje and Huila. Total 2013/14 seasonal cereal production is likely to be close to 2.6 million MT; this estimate is higher than last year’s levels and above historical trends. 
    • For the Southern Livestock, Millet and Sorghum Livelihood zone in parts of Namibe and Cunene Provinces, it is estimated that cereal and other crop harvests will be below the areas’ estimated production potential this season, however projected harvest levels are still expected to be higher than the 2012/13 season.
    • Over the past few months food security has continuously been showing signs of improvement in the country; the exception has been the areas of Kwanza Sul and Benguela Provinces that fall under the Coastal Fish, Horticulture and Non-farm Income zone. In this area household reliance on rain-fed agricultural has been complicated by poor seasonal rainfall. Food assistance has started in these areas, however it is considered inadequate. As a result, this area will face Stressed (Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes between July and December period. In the Southern Livestock, Millet, and Sorghum zone, poor households in Namibe are also Stressed (Phase 2), while the more populated areas of the zone in Cunene Province will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between July and December.

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


    • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is expected from July to September as poor households continue to access food from own-produced stocks, supplemented by market purchases.
    • Although food prices are expected to remain stable, they will be significantly higher compared to the 2010 ‘normal’ year and the four-year average. Combined with low production and reductions of income from typical sources, purchasing power of poor households will be reduced particularly from October to December, with poor households expected to face livelihood protection deficits and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity outcomes.
    • The Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment committee estimates close to 450,000 food insecure population in the 2014/15 consumption year and increase from 223,055 people estimated in the previous 2013/14 consumption year

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


    • With good national rice harvests estimated and the March/April maize/legume harvest in the South, acute food insecurity in Madagascar will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through at least September 2014.
    • In areas of the south and southwest that faced multiple shocks in 2013, high prices and above-average debt levels are likely to lead to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity starting in October.
    • A normal start to cropping activities and average 2014/2015 rainfall is currently expected in October/November.

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


    • Harvests in the northern areas have started in July and are continuing in the South. Maize-producing areas in the South are supplying the maize-deficit northern areas. There is high demand from traders for domestic and export markets in the maize-producing areas of Mbeya and Songea, but prices are on their seasonal decline.
    • Staple food prices are at their seasonally lowest point. Low rice prices over the past months have reduced poor, rice-producing households’ purchasing power. Low maize prices throughout the country are allowing many households to access food from markets.
    • Nationwide, food security will continue at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in most areas, but some households in Dodoma where production and incomes were affected by well below average rainfall during the December to March Msimu season will move to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in August.

    To learn more, read the complete Tanzania 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
    Structurally cereal deficit parts of the regionPrices of maize and other main staples remain high and begin to rise atypically.Higher food prices limit access for market dependent households especially the poor and very poor leading to higher IPC Phase (phase 3) in some areas.
    Malawi, Swaziland and LesothoHumanitarian interventions and safety net programs commences or are expanded October and December.  Affected households will be able to meet their livelihood and survival needs, resulting in Minimal IPC Phase 1! Acute food insecurity outcomes in these areas.


    Figures Seasonal Calendar

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar

    Source: Fews Net

    Current food security outcomes, July 2014

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, July 2014

    Source: Fews Net

    Table 1.  Preliminary SADC Regional Cereal Production Estimates: 2013/14 production year compared to previous year and 5-year

    Figure 3

    Table 1. Preliminary SADC Regional Cereal Production Estimates: 2013/14 production year compared to previous year and 5-year average.

    Source: SADC RVAA results summary

    Table 2. NVAC estimated numbers of food insecure populations 2014/15 consumption year**.

    Figure 4

    Table 2. NVAC estimated numbers of food insecure populations 2014/15 consumption year**.


    Figure 5


    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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