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Minimal acute food insecurity expected through December

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Zambia
  • September 2013
Minimal acute food insecurity expected through December

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Despite prevailing livelihood protection deficits in the south due to a reduced 2012/13 harvest, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are projected through December. Poor households are mostly relying on the sale and consumption of wild fruits, brewing, charcoal burning, and limited labor in order to meet their basic food needs.  Households eligible for Government assistance will start receiving food in September.

    • Although the country has adequate maize stocks to meet demand for at least nine months, maize and meal prices have remained higher than the previous season and the five year average. As the lean season starts in November and demand for staple market supplies increases, maize and meal prices will increase further, reducing the purchasing power for market dependent households.

    • The recent seasonal forecast indicates that the country will likely receive normal to above normal rainfall during the 2013-2014 growing season. This forecast suggests that there will be timely planting.

    Current Situation

    Generally food security outcomes have remained Minimal (IPC Phase 1) throughout the country.

    • Better off households with surplus maize grain have continued selling their grain to both the private sector and the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). Income from these sales is assisting farmers in purchasing agricultural inputs in preparation for the 2013/14 growing season.
    • Although farmers are benefitting from the good prices (prices range from ZMW 65 - 75/ 50 kg bag) and high demand for their commodity, in some cases small traders or middlemen are the main beneficiaries. These small traders are buying maize from farmers who are delivering at ZMW 1.25 - ZMW 1.35/Kg and selling to larger traders and millers at ZMW1.50 – ZMW 1.60/Kg in Lusaka as is the case in parts of the Southern Province (Kalomo, Choma, Monze, and Pemba Districts). 
    • Most poor households have depleted own produced foods and are depending on the markets, or working in exchange for food. In the southern part of the country that experienced reduced production due to erratic rainfall, poor households are engaged in the sale and consumption of wild fruits and brewing to earn money. A few have resorted to destructive coping strategies including excessive charcoal burning (in Namapande Settlement in Kazungula district). Animals are trekking far for grazing and water because local streams have dried up. In some parts of the south and west with access to wetlands and rivers, households are meeting their food needs through fishing and limited vegetable production.  
    • Consumers in both urban and rural areas are facing higher staple food prices with respect to the previous season and on average. These higher prices could constrain food access for poorer market dependent households. The high demand for maize locally (FRA and private sector) and regionally, has firmed up prices of both maize and maize meal with almost 40 percent of the monitored markets registering at least a 50 percent increase in maize grain retail prices with respect to previous season
    • While maize and maize meal is adequately available in various markets with easy access to the district centers, in far flung areas of the Southern Province, the commodity is not readily available. Since maize grain supplies were finished earlier due to the reduced harvest this past season, this is forcing households in more remote areas to travel at least 30 KM to purchase maize meal. The small traders that usually service these remote areas are busy selling to private traders and millers within the source markets at good prices.
    • The national Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) has requested implementing partners (NGOs) to start distributing relief food in 18 districts. This assistance will mostly cover the Southern and Western Provinces, targeting 209,498 people that were identified as requiring food assistance by the Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC).  The maize will be released from selected FRA storage sheds in the districts. This relief food will be distributed through food for work programming and general distribution to incapacitated households.
    • While the Government’s restricted maize export policy is still in place, significant informal exports have continued at the Tanzania, DRC, and Malawi borders. Similar levels of informal maize imports have been observed from Mozambique and part of Tanzania, primarily driven by the price differential. However, even with the significant informal exports, the country has adequate stocks for the 2013/14 consumption year and beyond (at least nine months stock) from a combination of the FRA stocks and stocks held by the private sector (millers, traders, farmers).

    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 2013
    • As the lean season begins in November, both maize and maize meal prices are expected rise as household stocks dwindle and as consumers face higher prices. Prices will remain above the previous season levels and the five year average. The areas far from district centers in southern Zambia which experienced significant reduction in production will continue facing maize deficits. The estimated 209,498 people in 18 districts (mostly in the Southern and Western Provinces) will be receiving relief food from the DMMU during the September 2013 to March 2014 period, as recommended by the VAC. Even with prevailing livelihood protection deficits, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are projected throughout the outlook period. 
    • Government subsidized inputs will be distributed using the old system (through farmer groups making bank deposits) because the newer distribution modality has not been effectively put in place for the upcoming 2013/14 season. With famers expected to contribute double the amount they paid last year for subsidized fertilizer acquisition, this change may limit poor farmer access to the inputs, along with possible yields. Good rains are expected by November which will enable farmers to plant on time.  
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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