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Late start of season, dry conditions, and high temperatures affect 2015/16 agricultural activities

  • Key Message Update
  • Southern Africa
  • December 2015
Late start of season, dry conditions, and high temperatures affect 2015/16 agricultural activities

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Halfway into the 2015/16 agriculture season, most of the region has experienced delays in the onset of rains by 10-40 days, along with poorly distributed rainfall, and very high temperatures. The areas most affected by the late rain onset and dryness, resulting in some false starts,  include central South Africa, southern Zimbabwe, central Malawi, Lesotho, southern Angola, southern Mozambique, southern Zambia, and northern Namibia.

    • With the ongoing El Niño expected to continue through early 2016, countries across the region are expecting erratic rainfall and dry spells to continue to adversely affect cropping activities and vegetation for the remainder of the main season. Because of the delayed start and poor moisture levels, harvests in 2016 for some countries are likely to be slightly later than normal and income earned through agriculture labor will be delayed. Since assistance needs are above average this consumption year due to drought conditions during the 2014/15 season, a later harvest and an extension of the lean season may result in deteriorating food insecurity outcomes for poor households once programming ends in February and March.

    • Across most of the region, food prices are above average and are expected to be high until harvests arrive in 2016. Poor households in cereal deficit areas that are not receiving assistance between January and March may experience livelihood and possibly consumption deficits, depending on the extent of the late harvest and the availability of casual labor. The green harvests that normally start in mid-February is also likely to be delayed and of poor quality due to erratic rainfall. 

    • Stressed (IPC Phase 2 and IPC Phase 2!) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in several cereal deficit parts of the region between January and March, including southern Zimbabwe, southern Madagascar, southern Angola, southern Mozambique, Lesotho, and southern and central Malawi. Poor households in these areas will experience livelihood protection and consumption deficits due to reduced casual labor opportunities, above average food prices, poor pasture and livestock conditions, the late start of season, and poor rainfall performance so far.


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    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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