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Rainfall prospects are optimistic for the start of the 2014/15 agricultural season

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Southern Africa
  • October 2014 - March 2015
Rainfall prospects are optimistic for the start of the 2014/15 agricultural season

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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) acute food insecurity outcomes between October 2014 and March 2015. However in localized parts of Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, and Tanzania, poor households are projected to face mainly Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and some Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes during this period due to high food prices, along with reduced incomes from labor and crop sales following the 2013/14 seasonal harvest. 

    • Across the region, food prices are expected to be stable and to follow seasonal trends due to increased market supply and reduced demand. Due to above average harvests, households will start depending on the markets a little later than usual. Prices are expected to be lower or similar to their respective five-year averages but will generally be lower than 2013 prices because of above-average production during the 2013/14 agricultural year.

    • Intraregional formal and informal trade is stabilizing staple grain supplies. Regional markets are functioning and trade flows remain normal.  Exports from surplus producing areas are expected to continue to play a key role in supplying deficit area markets across the region.

    • The SARCOF 2014/15 rainfall forecast was issued by the SADC Climate Services Center in August. The forecast suggests an enhanced probability of average to above-average rainfall in the majority of the region throughout the season. This generally positive forecast suggests good prospects for agriculture.  The exception is in northern DRC and northern Madagascar during the October to December period, DRC and northern Angola during the November to January period, and most of DRC and northern Angola during the January to March period. These areas are likely to receive average to below-average rainfall.  

    Outlook By Country


    • Most rural households are consuming food from their 2013/14 production and have an adequate amount of income for food purchases for the remainder of the consumption year.
    • Localized food and cash crop production shortfalls due to dryness during the 2013/14 main season have limited food and income access for very poor and poor households in parts of southern and northern Malawi.
    • Poor households in three livelihood zones spanning the northern and southern region are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from October-December. Humanitarian assistance to food insecure households is planned for areas in the north from January-March, while assistance for areas in the south is planned for December-March. Acute food insecurity outcomes in these areas of concern will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1!) from January to March.

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


    • As the lean season sets in, the majority of rural households across the country are currently facing Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1). The overall favorable food security outcomes are due largely to existing food stocks from this year’s above-average 2013/14 seasonal rainfall and crop production, including areas that are typically food deficit.
    • Staple food prices for maize grain, rice, and cowpeas are below or at the same level as the five-year average and lower than prices during the same period last year, improving access for poor consumers. In most markets, the seasonal price increasing trend has been delayed by a month on average.
    • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes will prevail across the country throughout the October 2014 to March 2015 period.  With the start of the lean season in October/ November, households will expand their typical livelihood strategies as needed in order to meet their food needs.

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


    • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are likely for the duration of the outlook period. This is supported by the good harvest from the 2013/14 production which will see a milder lean season. Own produced staple food will be available to rural households a little longer than usual and therefore demand from the market will start increasing in December as opposed to October.
    • Maize prices, which had remained higher than expected in the midst of a large surplus, started declining from mid-September into October. This was attributed to reduced offer price by millers and the urgency by farmers to get cash to access much-needed inputs for the coming production season. Meal prices in the coming months will largely depend on the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) maize selling price.
    • The 2014/15 seasonal forecast released by the Meteorology Department in September indicated a high likelihood of Zambia receiving normal to above-normal rainfall. Therefore, the season is likely to start on time, but there is also an increased chance of localized flooding in the flood-prone areas of Western and Northwestern Provinces.

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


    • The food security situation across the country is stable with most households accessing staple food from their own 2013/14 production. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are projected from October 2014 through March 2015 as households continue accessing staple food from their own production and through market purchases.
    • Typically, the lean season starts in October, but this year it will likely begin in December because staple prices have remained largely stable due to low demand. Households continue to consume stocks from last season’s own production, which is expected to be sufficient through March.
    • Most households across the country are currently engaged in land preparation, however agriculture inputs remain scarce in the majority of local shops in rural areas.

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

    Countries Monitored Remotely


    • Food prices have stabilized in most parts of the country. However, market prices in Namibe continue to decline due to later than normal horticulture production. Increasing food supplies in the Namibe will likely improve access among households that are currently relying on market purchases for their food needs.
    • The majority of the provinces across the country have started receiving agricultural inputs. Households in provinces in the southern part of the country are receiving seeds for corn, beans, millet, and sorghum, and fertilizers to support them as they prepare for the upcoming agricultural season. 
    • Although food security is generally stable across much of the country, poor households in the less populous Coastal, Fish, Horticulture, and Non-farm income zone will continue to be Stressed (Phase 2) between October and December. During this same period areas in more populous Southern Livestock zone will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes. During the peak of the lean season (January-March) the dwindling food supplies and reduced income earning possibilities are expected to contribute to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes in the areas of concern.

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


    • Below-average incomes, high food prices, low coverage of ongoing safety nets, and the start of green consumption in February or March are expected to be inadequate to cover all the food and livelihood protection requirements, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity outcomes.
    • The Lesotho Meteorological Services predicts a below-normal start of season, with a 40-60 percent chance of start of rainfall in the period October 11-20. The rest of the season November to March is expected to have a higher chance of normal to above-normal rainfall. This will reduce labor opportunities associated with start of season, but seasonal progress will present favorable conditions for crop growth and maturity.  
    • The ongoing safety nets target to reach 340,000 people in 2015, however the current 57 percent funding shortfall will limit the impact of the interventions on household access to food. Agriculture support to 18,500 households by FAO is expected to improve access to livelihood needs for targeted households. While these forms of assistance improve access, their coverage and funding levels are inadequate to meet the needs of the 447,760 people at risk of food insecurity for the 2014/15 consumption year.

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


    • Near-average national rice production this year, along with a near-average March/April 2014 maize/legume harvest is expected to maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in northern and central Madagascar through March 2015.
    • In areas of the south and southwest that faced multiple shocks in 2013, high staple food prices and above-average debt levels are likely to lead to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity among poor households starting in October and lasting through March 2015.
    • Forecasts for normal to below-normal rainfall in central and northern Madagascar between October and December 2014 during the start of the rainy season may affect local production and associated labor activities.

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


    • In the northeastern, bimodal lowlands, low maize production has weakened agricultural labor demand. Poor households who supply this labor will have less income for food purchase and will likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) starting in December.
    • In the Central Rift Valley in Dodoma and Singida Regions which had very low Msimu production this year, assistance will likely not arrive until December, a month later than originally expected.
    • Most households nationwide will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through March due to adequate household stock from recent harvests in bimodal and unimodal areas, abundant labor opportunities, and low and stable food prices. Milk availability and favorable livestock conditions will ensure food access for pastoralists and agropastoralists.

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


    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

    Across the region

    Inadequate and delayed input supply, especially from the Government input support programs targeting poor farmers.This will limit area planted, and prevent households from taking timely and full advantage of favorable agroclimatic conditions. Delayed and inadequate supply of inputs will delay and possibly reduce the availability of the green harvest expected between January and February.

    Across the region

    The start of season is delayed and erratic; the first half of the season receives below-normal rainfall. A late start of rains or below-average rainfall will delay the availability of seasonal wild foods, pasture regeneration, limit labor opportunities, and result in households failing to access adequate food between October and December. 

    Across the region

    Torrential rains leading to flooding.Severe and widespread floods would reduce crop yields significantly or totally destroy crops in the affected areas. This will reduce green food availability from and subsequently the 2014/15 seasonal food harvests.  
    Structurally cereal deficit parts of the regionPrices of maize and other main staples increase atypically.Higher food prices limit access for market dependent households, especially the poor and very poor, leading to higher IPC Phase in some areas.
    Malawi and LesothoHumanitarian interventions and safety net programs commence or are expanded through the October-December period.  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


    This report presents FEWS NET’s most forward-looking analysis for acute food security in this region for the outlook period stated above. It is based on the work of regional and national analysts who consider current conditions and local livelihoods in order to develop regional and national level assumptions about the future. The analysts compare these assumptions, their possible effects, and the likely responses of relevant actors to arrive at a most likely scenario for each country Typically, FEWS NET reports the most likely scenario. Click here for more information.

    Figures Current food security outcomes, October 2014.

    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes, October 2014.

    Source: Fews Net

    Seasonal Calendar

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar

    Source: Fews Net

    Figure 3


    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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