Food Security Outlook Update

Minimal acute food insecurity expected to remain in most areas

August 2015
2015-Q3-1-1-ZM-en

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity will continue in most areas, though parts of Southern, Western, and Eastern Province will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2)  through December. In these areas, some households are already employing atypical coping strategies to meet their livelihoods protection and basic food needs. Food relief assistance to eligible food insecure households will begin in September once target households are identified.  

  • Maize retail prices remain above the previous year’s levels and above the recent five-year average despite the market being adequately supplied. The high demand for Zambian maize from neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi will support higher maize prices through December. This could affect poorer households’ ability to access adequate staple food from the market in coming months.

  • Given the continued El Nino conditions and the high likelihood of this situation continuing to the start of the 2015/16 production season, below normal rainfall conditions are likely during the November to December period for southern Zambia.

Current Situation

  • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes remain in most parts of the country. The supply of staple foods on the market has continued to be stable as the peak of the marketing season gets underway.
  • The FRA maize purchase program commenced on August 17th and will last up to October 31st. The Agency will purchase no more than 500,000 MT of maize for strategic reserves.  Having entered the market late, they will need to compete with the private sector whose competitive advantage is offering cash at the time of purchase, whereas the FRA payments are usually delayed. Nonetheless, the FRA will offer farmers in the northern parts of the country a good market for their commodity. Traders are busy buying maize with most activity being observed in the southern half of the country where most milling plants and storage sheds are located. In the northern areas where increased production was reported due to good rainfall performance, many farmers have been waiting for the Food Reserve Agency to commence maize purchasing.
  • Market forces continue driving the maize wholesale prices which are ranging from K1.00/kg to K1.50/kg depending on location. Traders (local and foreign) are still actively purchasing maize, which has helped firm up wholesale prices in August as demand from both Zimbabwe and Malawi remains high. The FRA announced purchase price at K1.40 per Kg is being revised upwards to K1.50 following a Government directive. Increase in wholesale prices has not yet pushed up the retail prices as vendors are sourcing maize directly from farmers. Although stable maize retail prices were mostly observed in July with respect to June, price declines were recorded in some districts of northern Zambia where demand is relatively low. Maize prices have generally remained above the previous season’s levels (by 15 percent in Lusaka) and above the recent five-year average likely due to increased production and marketing costs.
  • In some districts of Western Province where harvest was reduced by as much as 60 percent (e.g. Shangombo and Senanga) with respect to average, most households are already depending on the market for staple food. As maize grain is in short supply, households are purchasing maize meal reaching these districts from Mongu, Lusaka and Livingstone as most rural districts have no milling plants. Income sources include increased sale of livestock, fish and labor while in Senanga vegetable production and sales are also common. With reduction in labor demand from better-off households and the timber industry (increasing mechanization) in these districts, some household members have started migrating to neighboring Namibia and Angola in search of casual work. Additionally, wage rate being offered locally in these districts has reduced as labor supply outstrips the demand reducing income for poorer households.    
  • Although the Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) recommended food assistance for an estimated 798,948 people mostly in southern Zambia to commence in August, the exercise has not yet started as listing of beneficiaries is only being completed end of August.
  • While an atypical decline in informal maize export to the DRC was recorded at the height of the marketing season in July, exports to Malawi have been steeply rising since May, reaching 18,000 MT in July up from 5,800 MT in June. Large informal exports into Malawi were last observed during the 2013/14 marketing season when that country had a large maize deficit. Sudden significant increase in informal exports to Tanzania has been observed in response to increasing demand from Kenya. Meanwhile the steep upward trend in formal maize exports has continued with a 46 percent increase (from 39,000 MT to 57,400 MT) recorded between May and June, of which 86 percent was to Zimbabwe while the rest went to Malawi and South Africa.   

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 2015. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the Zambia Food Security Outlook for July to December 2015

Projected Outlook through December 2015

  • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are likely for most parts of the country through December 2015 while mostly parts of Southern and Western Provinces are expected to reach Stressed (IPC Phase 2) by the end of August. Already some populations in parts of Western Province are resorting to unusual livelihood strategies such as migration and increased sale of livestock in order to meet basic food needs, which have been exacerbated by the delayed commencement of the government food assistance program. The relief exercise is likely to commence in September after listing is completed.
  • The market will remain adequately supplied with staple food whose prices will be slowly rising and remain above the five-year average up to the end of the outlook period. Continued high demand for Zambian maize from neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi will support higher maize prices. Despite the upward revision of FRA purchase price following Government directive, prices are still likely to be driven by market forces as the private sector have a large share of the maize market.
  • There is a 90 percent likelihood the ongoing El Nino event, which is generally associated with below-average rainfall in southern Zambia, will continue into the December-January-February period. This increases the likelihood of negative effects on planting and early crop performance. However, the usage of early maturing seed varieties, if available, and conservation farming could potentially mitigate some impacts.

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

Link to United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Link to the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) FEWS NET Data PortalLink to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Link to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth ObservatoryLink to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service, Climage Prediction CenterLink to the Climate Hazards Center - UC Santa BarbaraLink to KimetricaLink to Chemonics