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Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and worse outcomes expected in drought- and cyclone-affected areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Southern Africa
  • March - September 2022
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and worse outcomes expected in drought- and cyclone-affected areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Countries Monitored Remotely
  • Key Messages
    • In areas of the region affected by poor 2021/22 rainfall and tropical cyclones, only marginal improvements in acute food insecurity are anticipated due to lower-than-normal harvests. In some of the worst-affected areas, the harvest is expected to be up to 25 percent below normal. In addition to the poor harvest and lower-income from agricultural labor, food prices are likely to remain high and are expected to drive below-average purchasing power. In these areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely from June to September, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes expected in Madagascar. 

    • Following improvements in rainfall, planting activities increased in parts of the region in mid-January; however, overall, cropping conditions for the region remain below average. Several areas of the region experienced a long dry spell in February, resulting in some permanent crop wilting, and dry conditions negatively affected early planted maize crops. Parts of Zimbabwe and Mozambique were amongst the worst affected areas, with households now expecting a below-average harvest. 

    • During the 2022 season, tropical cyclones that made landfall in Madagascar, Mozambique, and Malawi, caused crop losses and displacement. In Madagascar, tropical cyclones Batsirai and Emnati caused the flooding of 60,000 hectares of rice fields, driving significant losses, which will likely decrease national rice production by more than 40 percent. In southern Malawi, damages from tropical storm Ana and rainfall deficits in January 2022 will likely decrease production prospects by an average of 10 to 25 percent. In Mozambique, tropical storm Ana impacted Nampula, Zambézia, Tete, and parts of Niassa, Manica, and Sofala provinces affecting nearly 200,000 people and damaging over 12,000 homes and 126,300 hectares of agricultural land.

    • Conflict in Mozambique and DRC remains volatile and continues to negatively impact livelihood activities. In Mozambique, conflict events continue to be concentrated in northern areas resulting in fatalities, damage to property, and looting. According to UNHCR, militia attacks reported this year have caused the displacement of around 24,000 people within Nangade district. The majority of displaced persons seek refuge in the neighboring district of Mueda, which hosts nearly 135,000 internally displaced people. In DRC, North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri provinces continue to be affected by conflict. Since January, armed troops from Uganda and Burundi have supported DRC forces by curtailing the level of conflict. However, around 140,500 people were displaced due to continued conflict in Ituri between December and February, and another 22,700 people were displaced in North Kivu.


    Democratic Republic of the Congo 

    • With below-average harvests and the impact of repeated displacements, some northeastern territories will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until September 2022. However, the center-east territories that have had a full growing season will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Northern areas will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.
    • From January to March 2022, rainfall in the unimodal zone of the southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is expected to be below average. This poor rainfall means that a normal growing season in this zone is unlikely, and harvests may be smaller than in previous seasons with limited availability in local markets. This is likely to have an impact on the price of the staple food, maize.
    • Despite the presence of the Ugandan and Burundian armies to support the DRC's armed forces, since the beginning of January 2022, there has been an increase in attacks by armed groups against civilians at sites for displaced persons in Nord-Kivu and Ituri, which are under siege, and in the highlands of Sud-Kivu. This situation jeopardizes any attempt at a normal recovery of the B growing season and suggests that harvests will be increasingly small compared to previous growing seasons. 

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


    • Through April 2022, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are expected throughout most of the Grand South as ongoing humanitarian assistance is mitigating worse outcomes throughout the lean season. The 2021/22 season has been characterized by a late onset of rains and poor rainfall performance. In many areas, rainfall improvement in early 2022 was too late for plantings or replantings, particularly as resources were limited given the impacts of consecutive droughts. Severe drought conditions in southern and western parts of the country are expected to result in below-average harvests, pasture conditions, water availability, and labor opportunities.
    • Worst-affected areas in the southwest will see only marginal seasonal improvements by May. However, these will be offset by reductions in humanitarian assistance, and households are expected to deteriorate quickly into Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, unprecedented during post-harvest months. Poor households are likely to remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) throughout the remainder of the outlook period despite additional marginal improvements to food access from cassava and sweet potato harvests – which begin in July. Yields for these crops are also likely to be significantly below average.
    • Southeastern Madagascar, which saw rainfall improvements from mid-December, has had relatively higher agricultural labor opportunities and is likely to achieve minimally sufficient seasonal improvements for households to maintain Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through the remainder of the outlook period once humanitarian assistance comes to an end. Meanwhile, western and central districts have also been negatively impacted by drought, poor vegetative health, and reduced agricultural labor opportunities, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through May. Although seasonal improvements due to cassava, sweet potato, and rice harvests are likely to reduce food insecurity in these areas to Minimal (IPC Phase 1), some households may remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
    • Multiple cyclones and tropical storm strikes in late January and throughout February destroyed infrastructure, shelter, and crops, displacing hundreds of thousands and worsening food security outcomes in several areas. Tropical Storms Ana and Dumako threatened crops across Analamanga and Antananarivo as well as vanilla-growing areas to the north. Category 4 Cyclone Batsirai and Category 3 Cyclone Emnati both hit southeastern Madagascar, including Mananjary, Manakara, and Farafangana. Crop destruction caused by the cyclones is expected to significantly negatively affect both food and cash crops in Madagascar’s high-producing northern, central, and eastern areas. Based on information from key informants, FEWS NET estimates a more than 30 percent decrease in rice and vanilla production. Worst-affected households in parts of the Atsimo-Atsinanana and Vatovavy Fitovinany regions are currently experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Cyclone recovery is likely to be lengthy, but these areas are expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Minimal (IPC Phase 1) by June. Other southern and central areas affected by cyclones and associated flooding, including Ihorombe and Antananarivo are currently experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes but are likely to improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) from June as well.

    To learn more, see the February 2022 Madagascar Food Security Outlook.


    • In Southern Malawi, damage from Tropical Storm Ana in January 2022 has further reduced the prospects for 2021/22 crop production. Flooding from Ana caused the loss of lives, damaged cropland and infrastructure, destroyed property, and resulted in livestock deaths. As a result of the storm’s damage and the rainfall deficits experienced throughout the country at the start of the season, FEWS NET expects national crop production will be 10 to 25 percent below average, with the largest deficits likely in Southern Malawi.
    • Although below-average production is expected, the overall food supply in Malawi, including the maize staple, is expected to be average to slightly above average owing to consecutive above-average harvests in 2020 and 2021. Households, government, and private traders reportedly hold adequate surplus stocks to satisfy national needs, combined with an estimated 3 million metric tons from the upcoming harvest. However, many poor households – primarily in Southern and some parts of Central Malawi – will likely exhaust household stocks earlier than usual in 2022.
    • Overall, current and projected food security outcomes remain favorable in most rural areas of Malawi. Poor households’ access to crop production, labor income, self-employment, and livestock sales will support Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. In the Lower Shire livelihood zone, losses to food and income following Tropical Storm Ana come on top of crop losses in 2021. Despite the ongoing humanitarian assistance, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely persist in Chikwawa and Nsanje districts throughout the outlook period due to additional cohorts of households that have lost food and income sources due to the impacts of Tropical Storm Ana. In Nsanje and Chikwawa, additional assistance needs are much higher than the initial humanitarian assistance planned in response to 2021 production gaps.

    To learn more, see the February 2022 Malawi Food Security Outlook.


    • Most households across the country face None (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, relying on their own food production and market purchases, and are expected to remain food secure through September 2022. However, below-average rainfall in southern Mozambique is expected to result in a poor to failed harvest, likely resulting in area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes emerging in the interior of Gaza and Inhambane, and southern Manica and Sofala from June 2022. In the southern Tete, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will persist due to irregular rainfall, which has resulted in multiple failed plantings. Households impacted by tropical storms Ana and Dumako are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, with affected households likely to recover through post-flood production if they have enough seeds to replant. In Cabo Delgado and parts of Niassa, conflict-affected areas are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with areas receiving regular humanitarian food assistance likely to remain Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!).
    • In northern Mozambique, rainfall has been regular and well-distributed since January, supporting crop growth following a 10 to over 40-day delay to the start of rainfall. However, in the interior of Gaza and Inhambane provinces, and southern Manica and Sofala provinces, a delayed start to effective rainfall at the start of the season and significantly below-average rainfall since late January is resulting in the wilting of crops, with crop failure likely as cumulative forecast rainfall is not expected to reach minimum crop requirements. National production is expected to be near the five-year average as crop growth in high production areas in central and northern Mozambique is in good condition despite a delayed start to the season. However, some uncertainty remains about whether there is sufficient time for crops to reach maturity.
    • From December 2021 to January 2022, maize grain prices had a mixed trend, with most prices remaining stable, atypical for the lean season. However, maize grain prices are likely to be stabilized from the above-average maize grain harvest from the 2021/2022 marketing year, along with prices self-adjusting following the high prices in 2019 and 2020 following successive shocks. In most monitored markets, maize grain prices in January 2022 were 20-55 percent below last year's prices and 5-44 percent below the five-year average. However, in Montepuez, maize grain prices are 44 percent above the five-year average, driven by the negative impacts of the conflict in Cabo Delgado on the supply chain. As typical, maize meal and rice prices were stable from December 2021 to January 2022 in most monitored markets, with mixed trends compared to last year and the five-year average.
    • In response to the conflict in Cabo Delgado and damage from Tropical Storms Ana and Dumako, and flooding, the government and humanitarian partners are providing targeted humanitarian assistance to impacted households. In January 2022, WFP resumed the distribution of rations sufficient to meet up to 24 days of monthly kilocalorie needs to around 818,000 beneficiaries in Cabo Delgado and Nampula. These rations are expected to continue till the end of March, with a potential pipeline break in May unless further funding is secured. Other humanitarian organizations are focused on livelihood assistance. Although some IDPs have returned to their areas of origin, the conflict's volatility is keeping humanitarian assistance needs high as new locations within and around Cabo Delgado are attacked

    To learn more, see the February 2022 Mozambique Food Security Outlook.


    • Through March 2022, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to persist in typical deficit-producing areas with Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes likely where humanitarian assistance is significant. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected in surplus-producing areas. Meanwhile, urban areas are likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) throughout the outlook period.
    • A poor start to the 2021/22 rainfall season and erratic rainfall are likely to result in below-average harvests by April or May and only short-lived improvements to food security outcomes. In typical surplus-producing areas, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes will be limited, while Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will be widespread. Meanwhile, typical deficit-producing areas are expected to be mainly Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as households will only be able to meet their minimal food needs but not their non-food needs. Some critical areas in parts of Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands, and the Matebeleland Provinces are expected to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by July, signaling an early start to the next lean season.
    • Following a period of extended dryness in February, most crops are suffering significant moisture stress and near-complete write-offs are likely for some households in worst-affected areas. The government has now lifted the maize and wheat import bans and is allowing the milling industry and stock feed manufacturers to import grain.
    • Most typical livelihood strategies are expected at below normal levels throughout the outlook period, mainly due to the poor agricultural season and a volatile macroeconomic environment. These include crop sales, casual labor, livestock sales, informal cross-border trade, and vegetable production and sale, among others. The cost of living is expected to continue rising, especially as parallel market exchange rates result in above-normal price increases for goods and services. Ongoing ZWL cash shortages will likely continue to erode purchasing power as mobile and electronic money transfers are charged premium rates.

    To learn more, see the February 2022 Zimbabwe Food Security Outlook.


    Countries Monitored Remotely


    • The peak of the lean season is ongoing, and food stocks from own production are largely depleted among poor households, increasing their reliance on markets for food using income earned from casual agricultural and non-agricultural labor opportunities. Most households are experiencing and will likely continue to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes until the harvest in March/April 2022. Food security outcomes are expected to improve with green foods becoming available in March and the beginning of the main harvest in April, as households consume food from their own production. This will drive Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.
    • Although imported food supplies are available and support normal domestic market supply, food access is limited due to low incomes and high food prices. Market prices are higher than last year and above the five-year average. Maize meal prices in December 2021 were stable compared to prices in November 2021. Poor households are spending a large proportion of their income on food, driving below normal purchasing power.
    • Wet conditions during the 2021/22 season are driving favorable production prospects for the 2022 harvest. Heavy rainfall in January resulted in waterlogging and the destruction of crops in several areas of the country. This hampered weeding activities, a main income-earning source for poor households. Rainfall in February was normal to above average. A second consecutive favorable harvest in 2022 is still expected due to the farm inputs subsidy program and generally favorable rainfall. Good crop production and pasture availability are expected to anchor economic growth and improve household food access in 2022.
    • Due to the compounding effects of continued COVID-19 restrictions, the domestic economy is still operating at a suboptimal level, resulting in some loss of income among households. COVID-19 containment measures have reduced remittances, driving low-purchasing power among remittance-dependent households, and are also likely to stunt economic growth and sustain high unemployment.

    To learn more, see the February 2022 Lesotho Remote Monitoring Report.

    [1] 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.


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

    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes

    Southern Africa

    Early cessation of seasonal rainfall in March

    Given the late start of the season in areas of Malawi, southern Madagascar, and northern Mozambique, this will likely result in further harvest losses, driving further declines in household food stocks and atypically earlier lean season.

    Southern Africa

    Continued conflict in Ukraine driving disruptions to international markets

    Food prices could increase even further than currently anticipated during the projection period if conflict in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia significantly disrupt international markets, push transport costs further up, and drive food prices higher.


    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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