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Minimal food insecurity outcomes to continue through December

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Zambia
  • August 2014
Minimal food insecurity outcomes to continue through December

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  • Key Messages
  • Current situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are projected across the country through December, given the above-average harvest, seasonally declining staple food prices, and good market supply. 

    • Maize and roller maize meal prices are showing typical post-harvest seasonal declines, providing relief to market-dependent consumers. However, maize and maize meal prices remain above the five-year average due to increased production, transportation, and processing costs. 

    • The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has intensified its maize buying program and has already purchased 78 percent of the targeted 500,000 MT strategic reserve. Farmers are also selling their produce to traders who are providing ready cash, enabling them to purchase inputs for the next production season that begins in October. 

    • Some households in areas of concern in western Zambia have depleted own food stocks and are employing normal livelihood strategies for accessing food and incomes. Eligible households will likely start receiving government food assistance by September.


    Current situation

    Food security outcomes are expected to be in line with the Food Security Outlook of July to December 2014; Minimal (IPC Phase 1) across the country.

    • In most areas of the country, households are accessing staple foods from the recent harvest and those with surpluses are selling their produce as the marketing season peaks.
    • In western areas of concern (Kalabo, Sikongo, Mongu, Limulunga, Senanga and Shangombo districts), poor households that experienced reduced production due to erratic rainfall and floods are supplementing their food needs with market purchases and exchange. The main sources of food are labor exchange and rice trade for maize. Labor demand by better-off households is at normal levels and traders from Kaoma, a surplus maize-producing district, are supplying some of these areas. Households are also relying on incomes from fish sales to purchase staple foods as fish catches are at their peak during this period (July–September). Staple food is readily available on markets and households experiencing difficulties in accessing food are awaiting government food assistance, which was expected to start in August. Food insecurity outcomes even for these areas is classified as Minimal (IPC Phase 1).
    • The Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) plans to start food assistance distribution targeting 351,000 people in 14 districts (mostly in western Zambia) identified by the Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) as requiring food assistance from August to March. The assistance will be a combination of general food distribution, food for work, and a voucher scheme for areas where markets are functional.
    • As a result of a higher buying price (1.40 ZMW/kg), the FRA has been able to purchase 78 percent of its target by mid-August, and is likely to meet its full 500,000 MT target by September, unlike in the previous year. In some outlying districts, farmers are requesting FRA to increase the allocated tonnage as they still have maize to supply. Traders and millers are also buying maize at prices ranging from 1.00 ZMW to 1.40 ZMW per kilogram. While private sector purchases of maize are low compared to last year, it is reported that the ability for private traders to purchase and pay farmers quickly is encouraging farmers in Eastern Province to sell to these traders in order to buy agricultural inputs.
    • Maize and maize meal prices declined seasonally between June and July, due to increased supply on the market and reduced demand as households access maize through own production. However, maize prices remained above the five-year average by 31 percent due to increased production and marketing costs. Likewise, maize meal prices were on average 38 percent above the five-year average in response to the generally high maize grain prices sustained during the 2013/14 marketing season and the increase in processing and transportation costs.
    • After lifting the export ban, the government is encouraging maize exports by both traders and the FRA, but indications are that regional markets remain limited. On the other hand, informal maize exports to Tanzania destined for Kenya markets were up by 28 percent in July. Exports to DRC are following seasonal trends, as July volumes of maize and maize meal traded were up by 17 and 46 percent, respectively. Even though Zambia has adequate maize production, maize imports from Mozambique and Tanzania increased by 73 percent and 174 percent, respectively, in July as traders took advantage of marketing opportunities and better prices offered by both the FRA and traders.
    • In general, livestock conditions are good as expected during this time of the year (when disease burdens are lowest). The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock is taking necessary measures, including restrictions in livestock movements and sensitization campaigns to prevent further spread of African swine fever that has persisted for the last six months in Northwestern Province (Chavuma, Kasempa, and Zambezi districts). 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not changed the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of July to December 2013. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the Zambia July Food Security Outlook


    Projected Outlook through December 2014
    • Maize and maize meal prices are expected to remain stable through September and start to increase in October as the start of the lean season (Nov/Dec) approaches. However, prices for both commodities will remain above the five-year average, given the high price levels maintained throughout 2013/14 marketing season and the recent increases in cost of fuel and electricity tariffs.
    • Poor households in the areas of concern will continue to subsist on own production and market purchases up to October.  By November, many more households will rely on the market when own stocks run out. Households will employ normal livelihood and coping strategies, including labor exchange, fish sales up to October (fish ban effective in November), sale of small livestock, and off-season maize production for those with access to wetlands. The eligible 351,000 households in 14 districts will be receiving food assistance to meet their food needs. Even with the identified livelihood protection deficits, the population requiring food assistance is likely to remain under 20 percent and therefore Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected throughout December.
    • Even with the El Nino threat projecting below-average rainfall for the period October to December for southern Zambia it is expected that from October farmers will start normal preparations and planting for the 2014/15 growing season, acquiring inputs from private sector as well as from the government supported Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) which is expected to increase and cover 1,000,000 small-scale farmers. 
    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source:

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an 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 over the next six months. Learn more here.

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