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Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to atypically continue in the post-harvest period

  • Key Message Update
  • Southern Africa
  • April 2024
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to atypically continue in the post-harvest period

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In April, which is the typical start of the main harvest across the region, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes remain atypically present in deficit-producing areas of Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique due to poor harvests that are limiting household access to food and income from agricultural labor and crop sales. Additionally, the conflict in Mozambique and DRC continues to constrain households' normal access to their livelihoods, driving Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are also present in the central and northern parts of most countries in the region due to the availability of food stocks from last year, the start of the 2024 harvest, and some income for food purchases. However, below-average national harvests are expected to lead to an early start to the lean season in the region and limit household access to food and income due to increased competition for off-own farm labor opportunities through September.
    • Short-lived improvements in food consumption are expected in areas where households will access below-average harvests in April and May. Household dietary diversity is expected to be limited across the region following the impact of weather shocks on crop production, particularly in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique. In the Grand South of Madagascar, the harvest of cereals, groundnuts, and pulses starts in April, improving poor household food access. Additionally, the upcoming harvest of other crops, such as rice, beans, cassava, and sweet potatoes, is expected to further complement household access to food and income in some parts of Madagascar in the coming months. However, across much of the Southern Africa region, the poor 2024 harvest and limited access to income in the post-harvest period are expected to sustain Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through September, particularly in typical deficit-producing areas. 
    • Poor households' purchasing capacity will likely remain lower than normal post-harvest due to limited labor opportunities for income and high food prices. Market supplies of staple foods are expected to remain below average following poor harvests, particularly in most semi-arid and arid areas. In the few markets with cereal grains, prices are expected to remain elevated and higher than the five-year average and prices last year. Informal maize grain imports into Malawi and Zimbabwe from Tanzania and South Africa are unlikely to meet local demand, with governments increasingly seeking to import maize from South America to meet market demand and improve national strategic grain reserves. Additionally, varying macroeconomic dynamics, such as high inflation and depreciation of local currencies, will likely continue to sustain high prices of alternative staples and other food commodities, keeping household purchasing capacity lower than normal. 
    • Poor households are beginning to expand their engagement in typical coping strategies to meet their food and non-food needs earlier than normal. Harvesting labor opportunities are limited across the region mainly due to the below-average harvest. Other income-earning opportunities for poor households, such as petty trade and self-employment, remain constrained by increased competition and reduced liquidity among better-off households. Following the below-average rainfall received in the 2023/24 rainy season, water resources are fast declining or are already dried up, particularly in parts of Zimbabwe, and this will likely hinder households' ability to engage in vegetable production, brickmaking, and construction for food and income in the dry season. Pastures and livestock body conditions are also declining earlier than normal following the conclusion of the below-average rainy season. In Malawi and Mozambique, significant rainfall received in March and April will likely help support vegetable and livestock production and other livelihood strategies such as brickmaking, fishing, and artisanal mining. In Malawi and Zimbabwe, tobacco marketing is in progress in isolated areas, providing some income for food and non-food purchases. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Southern Africa Key Message Update April 2024: Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to atypically continue in the post-harvest period, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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