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The region experiences an upsurge in the number of people needing immediate assistance

  • Key Message Update
  • Southern Africa
  • June 2016
The region experiences an upsurge in the number of people needing immediate assistance

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Following an El Niño-induced drought, Southern Africa is experiencing one of its poorest harvests in recent years, and an upsurge in households facing acute food insecurity.  FEWS NET estimates that a higher than normal number of people are currently facing acute food insecurity and about 17 million people will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between January-March 2017, requiring immediate assistance.  

    • At the height of the harvest period, many poor households in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Lesotho, and Swaziland currently face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity outcomes. Households in these countries are facing consumption gaps because they did not produce much staple this season and labor incomes are well-below average, constraining food access for households that are relying on market purchases for consumption much earlier than usual.  For households in many drought-affected areas in the region, this is the second or third consecutive year of poor production.  

    • A regional cereal deficit of 6-8 million MT is expected in Southern Africa. Imports from Zambia, Tanzania, and other international markets will only partially mitigate this shortfall. Maize prices, which are already above last year and the five-year average, are expected to rise further and remain significantly above these levels, especially in Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar,   and Zimbabwe.  Some of the main drivers of the high food prices are low maize supplies and substantially higher demand for market purchases.

    • Early June Climate Prediction Center (CPC) forecasts indicate that a La Niña event is likely to develop during the start of the 2016-17 agricultural season. In the Southern Africa region a La Niña event tends to be associated with above-average rainfall, however initial model forecasts suggest that precipitation will be near average for October-December. Since the start of the season is several months away and forecasts for another important factor, the status of the Subtropical Indian Ocean Dipole (SIOD), are still forthcoming, FEWS NET is assuming a normal start to the 2016-17 cropping season across the region. A normal start to agricultural activities, including land preparation and planting, should improve labor opportunities and income levels for households, however high maize prices projected during this period will continue to impede food access. 

    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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