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Weather, conflict, and macroeconomic shocks sustain Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes

  • Key Message Update
  • Southern Africa
  • March 2024
Weather, conflict, and macroeconomic shocks sustain Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In Southern Africa, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes remain present in typical deficit production areas of southern Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Madagascar, eastern and northern DRC driven by the El Nino-induced drought, macroeconomic shocks and in the DRC and northern Mozambique by conflict. However, the availability of food stocks and income for food purchases maintains Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in most countries' central and northern parts. In southern Madagascar and Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are present due to ongoing humanitarian food assistance. The start of the harvest in April and May is likely to provide short-term improvements to household food access in the region. However, an earlier-than-normal depletion of harvested stocks, high market demand, below-average income from crop sales, and high food prices will likely keep household purchasing power lower than normal. Income from vegetable sales, self-employment activities, petty trade, and livestock sales are likely to be constrained by increased competition and reduced demand, contributing to widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the postharvest period in the region through September.
    • The peak of the lean season period has extended into March, particularly in the deficit-producing areas of the region that have been severely affected by the El Niño-induced drought. The poor crop performance has significantly reduced the availability of green harvests, which typically improves dietary diversity and supports household access to food. As a result, households remain reliant on market purchases for food, but high prices constrain household purchasing power. Income from agricultural labor opportunities remains limited as most cereals and grains harvesting is widely expected to begin in April and May across the region. However, in tobacco-producing areas of Malawi and Zimbabwe, harvest labor opportunities provide some households with access to income, supporting their food access. 
    • Tropical cyclones and localized thunderstorms in March displaced households and disrupted access to food and income-earning opportunities in Mozambique, Malawi, Madagascar, and DRC. Tropical cyclone Filipo, which made landfall around mid-March in Mozambique, led to widespread flooding and destroyed infrastructure, crops, and livestock in Gaza, Maputo, Inhambane, and Sofala provinces. In Malawi and DRC, heavy rainfall from the end of February into the first week of March 2024 led to flooding and landslides, damaging homes, household food stocks, and crops, affecting households' access to food and income. In Madagascar, the tropical storm Gamane made landfall at the end of March in the Sava region in northern Madagascar, causing flooding and localized displacements of households. The floods and heavy rainfall are expected to constrain households' access to their normal income-earning activities, markets, and own-produced food as households recover from the damage. 
    • As the lean season peaks, maize grain prices on markets remain high due to high demand ahead of the anticipated below-average harvests in April and May. Maize grain prices in most domestic markets will likely stabilize briefly during the immediate postharvest period but are expected to rise earlier than normal as market demand increases, particularly in the deficit-producing regions of southern Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique. In late March, South Africa lowered its 2024 production estimates to 13.256 million metric tons (MMT) from an initial 14.359 MMT, likely further tightening regional maize supply and keeping maize meal prices in many markets higher than last year. However, maize imports from East Africa, the United States, South America, Ukraine, and Russia are expected to reduce the regional white maize grain supply gap in markets. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Southern Africa Key Message Update March 2024: Weather, conflict, and macroeconomic shocks sustain Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, 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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