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Poor production amidst low purchasing power results in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Southern Africa
  • July 2022 - February 2023
Poor production amidst low purchasing power results in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The 2022 harvest improved food security outcomes across much of the region, particularly in surplus-producing areas of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Madagascar, central and northern Malawi, and northern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Improvements will likely be marginal and short-lived in the worst drought and cyclone-affected areas of Zimbabwe, the Grand South of Madagascar, southern and central Mozambique, and parts of southern Malawi due to a lower-than-normal harvest. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) are likely in these areas between June and September, while in the Grand South of Madagascar, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are ongoing as humanitarian assistance is mitigating food consumption deficits.

    • Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will likely emerge in the Grand South of Madagascar in August following the severe 2021/22 drought, which has driven extremely low maize, cassava, and sweet potato harvests, and humanitarian aid is likely to end in August. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to persist in neighboring areas where households have lower than average purchasing power. 

    • Persistent insecurity and conflict in Mozambique and DRC continue to disrupt livelihood activities. In Mozambique, attacks by insurgents in eastern Cabo Delgado in early June, including previously conflict-free areas of Ancuabe and Chiúre districts, displaced over 23,000 people, according to IOM. Before May, the insurgents frequently carried out small-scale attacks, primarily in Macomia, Mueda, Nangade, and Meluco, with small insurgent cells seeking to loot food and supplies from unguarded places. In DRC, populations in conflict-affected areas continue to be displaced, particularly in the east of the country. DRC has nearly 5.6 million internally displaced persons in 13 provinces, nearly 85 percent of whom are in North and South Kivu and Ituri provinces alone. Due to disrupted livelihoods and displacement, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is ongoing among many IDPs. 

    • While food prices have seasonally declined, they remain elevated and higher than in 2021 and the five-year average across much of the region. The overall decrease in prices during the harvest is much lower than typical, driven by market pressure from the high global food and fuel prices. Additionally, the high international prices and continued depreciation of the local currency contribute to below-average household purchasing power, notably among those who are atypically market reliant in the post-harvest period. In Zimbabwe, macroeconomic instability, marked by spiking exchange rates, will likely remain a prime driver of rapidly increasing headline inflation.


    Democratic Republic of the Congo 

    • Harvests for season B begin in the east of the country in a context of renewed hostilities, especially on the agricultural volcanic soils of Rutshuru, presaging lower harvests than the previous season. Climatic disturbances resulting in delayed rainfall in the Ruzizi plain, the breadbasket of the central-eastern zone, damaged crops in the first two months of the crop cycle.
    • The resurgence of the former March 23 rebellion (M23) has poisoned already strained relations between the countries of the Great Lakes region. Fighting between the armed group and loyalist forces has already displaced an estimated 100,000 people, according to OCHA. This situation could cause widespread clashes in the border areas of the DRC and Rwanda and thus exacerbate the already precarious humanitarian situation in this region.
    • In Ituri and North Kivu, provinces plagued by conflict and still facing significant population movements, the latter are facing increasingly large consumption deficits and the area remains in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). The stable part of the north-central remains in Minimal (IPC Phase 1), with Stress zones (IPC Phase 2) in the east-central, where households will face minimally adequate food consumption

    To learn more, see the June 2022 Democratic Republic of Congo Food Security Outlook


    • A continuation of large-scale assistance is required to prevent the emergence of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in southwestern Madagascar during the 2022/23 lean season, following severe drought and extremely low maize and anticipated poor cassava and sweet potato harvests. Across most of the Grand South, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes currently persist – despite it being the post-harvest period – as ongoing humanitarian assistance is mitigating worse outcomes through August. Cumulative rainfall and soil moisture conditions in the southeast will drive relatively better outcomes as most of the rest of the Grand South is expected to experience Crisis (ICP Phase 3) through January 2023. Northern Atsimo Andrefana, also hard-hit by severe drought, is expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) given well below average harvests and reduced crop sales. Food assistance needs throughout the 2022/23 lean season are expected to be similar to last year and well above the five-year average.
    • Meanwhile, areas worst affected by the above-average 2022 cyclone season are experiencing Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2), although significant pockets of households are likely experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes due to crop and infrastructure losses. As recovery continues, these areas are expected to slowly improve but will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through January 2023. In the rest of the country, near-average production and near-normal incomes will continue to drive Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes throughout the outlook period.
    • According to key informants, national-level crop production is near normal, despite significant, localized losses to rice, cassava, and coffee and other cash crops in eastern Madagascar and moderate losses to vanilla and cloves in northern Madagascar due to cyclone damage. In the Grand South, however, multiple shocks – including late-onset rains, severe drought, pests, cyclone impacts, and above-average input prices have led to a significant reduction in maize harvests. Declines in crop production were noted across the region, however, were more pronounced (approximately 70 percent below normal) in the districts of Ampanihy, Betioky, Bekily, Betroka, and Taolagnaro. Household stocks are therefore significantly below average, varying from one to five months this season.
    • Across the Grand South, prices are currently stable but remain high. FEWS NET data shows that maize grain prices fell seasonally in April when supplies from the 2022 harvest began boosting market availability. Still, prices were exceptionally high across all monitored markets – and even double the five-year average in some markets – reflecting reduced harvests in 2022. Dried cassava from central Madagascar, a key supplier for the Grand South, is available and prices were stable but were 55 percent above the five-year average in April. Similarly, prices of local rice – generally preferred to imported rice –were between 23 and 48 percent higher than the five-year average in April, significantly constraining household purchasing power when households in the Grand South are heavily reliant on market purchases to meet their food needs

    To learn more, see the June 2022 Madagascar Food Security Outlook


    • Recent evidence from multiple sources indicates that crop production in Malawi is likely below last year and the five-year average. Southern Malawi is estimated to have the most significant decrease, with maize production estimated to be 30 to 50 percent below the five-year average. As a result, poor households’ food stocks in southern Malawi are expected to last until August compared to October in typical year, leading to an increased reliance on markets and access to income to meet food needs through March 2023.
    • The price of maize staples continues to be significantly above the same period last year and the five-year average, driven by below-average harvest, high fuel and transportation costs, and inflationary pressure. According to FEWS NET price data, in nearly all monitored markets, the price of maize staples in May 2022 ranged from 184 MWK to 250 MWK. Compared to the same period last year, prices were higher by 31 to 214 percent and between 47 to 207 percent higher than the five-year average. Prices are expected to remain significantly above five-year averages through January 2023, further limiting household financial access to food.
    • Current food security outcomes in Malawi reflect regional dynamics and drivers. In southern Malawi, widespread disruption to livelihoods and household income, a significant reduction in crop production, and high food prices are driving unseasonal food consumption gaps and livelihood coping for poor rural households, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes, despite an ongoing harvest. In the lower shire livelihood zone, very poor households face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes, indicated by large consumption gaps and atypical reliance on livelihood coping to generate income to purchase food. However, by January 2023, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) households in southern Malawi will likely transition to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes, as high prices and below-average agriculture income exacerbate as lean season dynamics.
    • In central and northern Malawi, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes for most rural households from June to September 2022, given ongoing harvest and minimal reliance on markets. However, a portion of market-reliant very poor households are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes from October 2022 to January 2023.

    To learn more, see the June 2022 Malawi Food Security Outlook


    • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes prevail throughout Mozambique for most poor households supported by the recently harvested crops from the 2021/22 agricultural season. However, in drought-affected areas of southern and central Mozambique, a poor harvest, depleted food reserves, and limited income-generating opportunities will likely result in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. In Nampula province, areas affected by storms/cyclones earlier in the year are likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the loss of harvests and livelihood assets. In Cabo Delgado, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes persist, driven by the ongoing conflict. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes will prevail in areas with the regular distribution of humanitarian food assistance.
    • In May, Food Security Cluster (FSC) partners provided humanitarian food assistance to around 374,000 beneficiaries in Cabo Delgado and Niassa, following the distribution to about 650,000 beneficiaries in April, assisting around 1,025,000 people over the two months. Due to limited resources, WFP is distributing half rations equivalent to 39 percent of a 2100 kilocalorie diet to around 850,000 people in Cabo Delgado and 74,000 in Nampula and Niassa, with the remainder of beneficiaries supported by other members of the FSC Cluster. Approximately 26 percent of the HFA was provided as in-kind assistance, 67 percent via vouchers, and 7 percent via Immediate Response Rations (IRRs). WFP is warning that there is a potential pipeline break in October if additional funding is not secured soon. Targeted humanitarian assistance is also taking place in Zambezia and Nampula provinces in areas affected by Cyclone Gombe, with WFP assisting around 97,000 people in May.
    • In May, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) year-on-year inflation rose to 9.3 percent, the highest since September 2017. The biggest contributors to the monthly inflation rate were food and non-alcoholic beverages (3.4 percent month-on-month) and transport (1.1 percent month-on-month). According to Mozambique’s National Institute of Statistics (INE), price increases in wheat, petrol, diesel, cooking oil, and bar soap are contributing the most to the monthly inflation rate. Following the increase in fuel prices, bread prices increased by 20 percent and transportation prices increased by 50 percent along certain routes The rising costs are likely to reduce household purchasing power, particularly in urban areas where households are more market dependent.  
    • The delayed harvests are ongoing across Mozambique, particularly in high production areas such as the plateaus of Tete, Zambézia, Manica, and Sofala, the interior of Nampula and western Cabo Delgado, and Niassa province. While official production estimates are not yet available, a near-average national production is likely following a rapid food security assessment in mid-May 2022, along with ongoing investments in agricultural production such as the government’s SUSTENTA program. Additionally, remote sensing products, such as the water requirement satisfaction Index (WRSI), indicate that as of May 30, crop production is likely to be average to good, except in areas affected by poor climate shocks (poor rainfall, storms/cyclone, flooding) and conflict. 

    To learn more, see the June 2022 Mozambique Food Security Outlook


    • In the post-harvest period, food security outcomes are expected to improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, humanitarian food needs will continue to increase steadily through January 2023 and will be higher than needs at the peak of the 2021/22 lean season. Significantly below average 2021/22 crop production and macroeconomic instability are expected to drive the emergence of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes by July/August in deficit-producing areas and those worst affected by erratic rainfall, marking an early onset of the 2022/23 lean season. In surplus-producing areas, near-average 2021/22 harvests and 2020/21 carryover stocks will likely result in continued Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes throughout the outlook period. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will continue in relatively less productive parts of surplus-producing areas and urban areas through January.
    • Macroeconomic instability, marked by spiking parallel market foreign currency exchange rates, will likely remain a prime driver of rapidly increasing headline inflation throughout the outlook period. High international prices and the continued depreciation of the local currency are contributing to below-average household purchasing power thereby increasing the proportion of households experiencing challenges in meeting their basic food and non-food needs. The lifting of import duties on prioritized basic food and non-food commodities in response to emerging shortages will cushion some household groups, but access for poorer households will likely remain constrained.
    • For most households, typical livelihood strategies will likely remain constrained, and income will remain below average throughout the outlook period. Food crop sales will be non-existent in deficit-producing areas, while sales will be marginal in surplus-producing areas. Casual labor opportunities and livestock sales will be below normal due to limited demand. Cross-border trade is increasing with the recent opening of land borders, although it will likely remain below pre-pandemic levels.

    To learn more, see the June 2022 Zimbabwe Food Security Outlook

    Countries Monitored Remotely[i]


    • Despite expected below-average production for the current harvest that began in May, rural households are expected to continue consuming own-produced food through August. Overall income is lower than normal due to below-average crop sales and reduced remittances from South Africa; at least 60 percent of households receive monthly remittances. As a result, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are most likely through September. Crisis (IPC phase 3) outcomes are likely to emerge in late 2022 as households will be market reliant, yet with reduced household purchasing power because of above average food price increases and below average income.
    • Following flooding in January and February, some households, especially in the lowlands and Senqu River Valley, were not able to plant due to heavy rainfall. The fields lying along the rivers had been washed away by the overflowing rivers, damaging the crops according to the 2022 National Emergency Flood Rapid Assessment Report. The government is to provide subsidies on agricultural inputs for winter production. While official production estimates are currently not available, 2022 crop production is expected to be below average and similar to 2021.
    • Most grain prices remained generally stable owing to decreased demand as most households are consuming own-produced foods. However, the price of wheat in April increased sharply mostly due to high and increasing global food prices. Similarly, prices of non-staple grains including cooking oil, have also increased in recent months, adding to inflationary pressures. Maize meal prices in April were 14.5 percent above the five-year average, while bread prices were 17.4 percent above average. 

    To learn more, see the June 2022 Lesotho Remote Monitoring Report


    • Across most of the country, households are facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes as they consume recently harvested crops and participate in planting for the nacas season. National production estimates for the 2021/22 agricultural season are near the five-year average and above last year.
    • In the southwest, parts of Namibe, Cunene, and Huila provinces are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) conditions as a result of below-average production due to consecutive years of severe drought. Poor households in these areas have access to limited income from harvesting labor and pastoral activities, reduced or no access to own-produced crops, and are relying on markets for food purchases.
    • In some areas, households are participating second season or nacas planting activities, but below-average soil moisture conditions in the southwest and limited access to inputs will hinder nacas planting and harvests during the outlook period. A normal start to the 2022/23 main cropping season is expected in October, while below-average rainfall is likely in northern parts of the country, and average to above-average rainfall is likely across the rest of the country.
    • Improved oil revenues continue to bolster the national economy and strengthen the value of the Kwanza, curbing imported inflation for food items. Future COVID-19 lockdowns and ongoing supply chain disruptions in China could potentially slow down the uptake of Angolan crude.
    • From July 2022 to January 2023, poor households in Namibe, Cunene, and Huila provinces will intensify their typical livelihoods strategies earlier than normal due to below-average yields and significantly below-average income through 2021/22 harvesting labor. Limited second season planting and harvesting is also expected, as well as increasing food prices once the lean season begins in November. As more poor households become reliant on markets, lower-than-normal purchasing power will continue to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in these areas.

    To learn more, see the June 2022 Angola Remote Monitoring Report


    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.



    Impact on food security outcomes

    Southern Africa

    More severe disruption to international markets due to the Ukraine crisis and other global drivers

    Food prices could increase even further than currently anticipated during the projection period significantly disrupting international markets, push transport costs further up, and drive food prices higher. This would result in an increase in the number of people and areas in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    [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.

    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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