Southern Africa: Drought – 2018-2022

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Southern Africa: Drought – 2018-2022

Disaster description

The number of severely food insecure people in Southern Africa rose to an estimated 9.6 million at the start of the lean season (October 2018 to April 2019), due to an increase of 1.1 million people in Malawi. Malawi, which now has an estimated 3.3 million people in Crisis or Emergency (IPC phase 3 and 4), and Zimbabwe, where nearly 2.4 million people are in Crisis or Emergency, have the highest numbers of severely food insecure people in the region. Meanwhile, three districts in Zimbabwe and two districts in Madagascar were classified in Emergency (IPC phase 4) at the outset of the lean season, as a result of extreme loss of livelihood assets. There are also pockets of people facing Emergency food insecurity (IPC phase 4) in Eswatini, Lesotho and Mozambique.

Since the start of the 2018/19 cropping season in October, anomalous dry conditions have developed across parts of Southern Africa, with more intense moisture deficits registered in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, in addition to the western parts of Madagascar. Although there are a few months remaining in the cropping season, with the main harvest period usually commencing in April, the impact of the reduced rains is expected to have caused a contraction in the area planted and lowered yield prospects, particularly in the aforementioned areas. Heavier rainfall since mid‑December provided some respite and helped to alleviate moisture deficits, but concurrently resulted in localized flooding in parts of Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Approximately 10.8 million people were facing severe food insecurity in Southern Africa as 2018 came to an end. In Eswatini, the estimated number of people facing Crisis (IPC phase 3) or worse food insecurity more than doubled from 120,000 in October to nearly 250,000 in December. In Zimbabwe, where 2.4 million people in rural areas were severely food insecure, the deteriorating economic situation caused sharp price increases and hampered access to food and agricultural inputs. Shortages of basic food commodities in formal markets, including cooking oil, sugar and bread, were reported, especially in remote areas. In Mozambique, more than 1.78 million people were in IPC phase 3 or above across the country, of whom 814,000 people in five provinces were prioritized for urgent humanitarian assistance. Further attacks by non-state armed actors were reported in Cabo Delgado province in November, increasing food security and malnutrition concerns. Meanwhile, in Madagascar, a Flash Appeal was launched to galvanize funding for rapid response in the Grand Sud region, where 890,000 people are severely food insecure.

FEWS NET anticipates the next lean season will most likely start atypically early in August/September in several areas of the region, and households will have limited purchasing power due to lower incomes. Additionally, household access to milk will be lower than normal driven by poor livestock body conditions. Consequently, atypically high levels of acute food insecurity are likely during the 2019/20 lean season in most countries across the region, except in Madagascar, Malawi, and northern Mozambique. Atypically high needs will also be driven by conflict in DRC and poor macroeconomic conditions in Zimbabwe. Although outcomes are not expected to be as severe as those following the 2015/16 drought, humanitarian partners should prepare for a likely earlier than normal start to the 2019/20 lean season and higher than normal food assistance needs during this time.

President Hage Geingob [of Namibia] yesterday declared the current drought affecting 23 arid and semi-arid counties and pockets of other areas a national disaster. Since 2013, most parts of Namibia recorded below normal rainfall, thereby leaving the grazing land exhausted and with little recovery.

An estimated 41.2 million people in 13 SADC Member States are food insecure this year. When comparing the 11 Member States that provided data last year, food insecurity increased by 28%. It is also 7.4% higher than it was during the severe El Niño-induced drought of 2016/17.

The overall food security situation in the region is deteriorating and the number of severely food insecure people is rising in some countries, reaching a peak between October 2019 and March 2020. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes prevail in cyclone affected areas of Mozambique and Zimbabwe and areas significantly affected by the drought and the deteriorating macro-economic context in Zimbabwe. Emergency (IPC 4) outcomes prevail in parts of Southern Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique and Eswatini. Poor crop performance due to variable and late rainfall affected significant portions of Lesotho, Eswatini, southern Madagascar, and southern Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, while the impact of cyclones Idai and Kenneth caused damage and destruction to harvests in eastern Zimbabwe, southern Malawi, and central and north Mozambique.

A record 45 million people across the 16-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) will be severely food insecure in the next six months, United Nations food agencies have warned … There are more than 11 million people now experiencing “crisis” or “emergency” levels of food insecurity (IPC Phases 3 and 4 in nine Southern African countries: Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Eswatini and Lesotho … The UN food agencies are escalating their responses across the nine countries, planning to assist more than 11 million people by mid-2020. In addition to addressing urgent food and nutrition needs, they will help smallholder farmers boost production and reduce losses, manage precious soil and water resources in a sustainable way and embrace climate-smart agricultural practices, better access to inputs, credit and markets, and spearhead vaccination campaigns to contain livestock disease.

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a US$3.39 million contribution from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help meet the immediate food needs of drought-affected people in Zambia. The US support, confirmed in December 2019, comes at a moment of increasing needs, after drought and prolonged dry spells have left 2.3 million people severely food insecure and in need of assistance. Through this funding, WFP will deliver 2,380 MT of pulses to complement the Government’s maize for three months, giving 255,000 drought-affected people across the country the food and nutritional assistance they need.

A record 45 million Southern Africans are food insecure as the region enters the peak of the lean season (January-March 2020)

Between October 2019 and March 2020, an estimated 430,000 people are facing severe acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3+) and require urgent humanitarian action.

More than 4.34 million people in rural Zimbabwe are acutely food insecure facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse from February-June 2020. That is equivalent to 45% of the country’s rural population. This includes over 1.04 million people facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity, with Hwange, Kariba and Binga districts being the most vulnerable.

According to the results of the IPC, around 26% of Lesotho’s population (380,000 people) are facing high food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) and above from July to September 2020 and require urgent humanitarian action. This includes around 33,000 people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and 350,000 people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In the current period, seven districts are classified as Crisis (IPC Phase 3 ) with the exception of Butha-Buthe, Leribe and Berea, where around 560,000 people are classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and require support to maintain their livelihoods.

Between October 2020 and March 2021, Zambia’s food security situation is expected to deteriorate, as this coincides with the lean season, when more households will rely on the market for food. It is projected that about 1.98 million people (29% of the analysed population) will be facing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) and require urgent humanitarian action to reduce food gaps, protect and restore livelihoods and prevent acute malnutrition.

By the end of the year, severe food insecurity was affecting 13.6 million people across 11 countries, and this will rise during the lean season (January to March 2021). In the Grand Sud of Madagascar, over 900,000 people faced severe food insecurity from October to December due to back-to-back droughts, compounded by COVID-19 and displacements due to the growing insecurity related to cattle raiding. Hunger will increase and affect 1.14 million from January to April 2021. In Mozambique, conflict in Cabo Delgado Province—which had displaced more than 500,000 people by end-October—and drought in the semi-arid southern and central areas of the country drove Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity. In Zimbabwe, 2.6 million people were severely food insecure from October to December 2020 due to the prevailing economic situation and erratic rainfall, and 3.4 million people are projected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) from January to March 2021. Without the humanitarian assistance delivered in Zimbabwe in 2020, these figures would be much higher, according to the IPC analysis.

According to the acute food insecurity analysis update in Zambia for the February-March 2021 projection period, an estimated 1.73 million people (25% of the analysed population) are likely to face high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above). This includes around 1.5 million people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and around 240,000 people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), who will require urgent humanitarian action to reduce food gaps, protect and restore livelihoods.

Around 27.3 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above), making the central African country the host of the highest number of people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in the world.

Angola has been experiencing episodes of drought since December last year with below average rainfall in the provinces of Cuanza Sul, Benguela, Huambo, Namibe and Huíla. The situation is not expected to improve in the coming months in the absence of above average rainfall. Since the beginning of March 2021, Angolans living in the border provinces of Cunene and Huila are crossing into Namibia at illegal entry points in Omusati and Ohangwena regions in search of food, water, medical services and employment opportunities. The regional councils (local authorities) have recorded altogether 894 people in Omusati and Kunene regions who have crossed into Namibia in search of food.

Mozambique: In the 16 analysis units analysed in Cabo Delgado Province, in total, it is estimated that about 75,000 children aged 6-59 months are suffering and are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition in the next 12 months and, consequently, need and will need treatment. In terms of severity of the situation, for the period October 2020 to March 2021, corresponding to the season when the survey was conducted (February 2021), eight districts and two IDP centres were classified in Alert (IPC AMN Phase 2), five districts and one IDP centre were classified in Acceptable (IPC AMN Phase 1). Projection analyses of the situation indicate, that for the period April to September 2021, in districts with limited or no humanitarian access, by the end of the projection period, the situation is likely to deteriorate to Critical (IPC AMN Phase 4) in one district, to Serious (IPC AMN Phase 3) in three districts, and to Alert in four districts.

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Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are widespread across much of southern Madagascar, with some households experiencing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and worst-affected households in Ambovombe and Amboasary experiencing Catastrophe ((IPC Phase 5). Minimal seasonal improvement in food access is expected in southern Madagascar due to the expected limited harvest and associated income-earning opportunities. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes with some households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) are expected to persist through at least September. Conflict continues at relatively high levels in Cabo Delgado Mozambique and parts of the DRCongo. According to OCHA, as of April, over 732,000 people were displaced in Cabo Delgado. In Kasai, DRCongo, in March, about 41,000 were displaced due to conflict. Additionally, in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, recent conflict has resulted in the government’s declaration of martial law. Conflict in DRC and Mozambique has disrupted agricultural and most typical livelihood activities with minimal seasonal improvements expected with the harvest. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in these areas through at least September. As the harvest continues across most of the region, most households, including the poor, are consuming foods from their own production. Overall, households in ZimbabweMalawiLesotho, and most parts of Mozambique are anticipated to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through at least September. In areas where Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, while the harvest is expected to facilitate improved food access, household income will most likely remain below average.

Millions of people in southern Angola are facing an existential threat as drought aggravated by climate change continues to ravage the region, Amnesty International said today. The organization highlighted how the creation of commercial cattle ranches on community land has driven pastoralist communities from their land since the end of the civil war in 2002 – a shift which left huge sections of the population food insecure and paved the way for a humanitarian crisis as the acute drought persists for over three years when drought struck over three years ago. As food and water grow increasingly scarce, thousands have fled their homes and sought refuge in neighbouring Namibia.

The latest IPC Acute Food Insecurity analysis results indicate that between July and September 2021, about 1.18 million people in Zambia are facing high levels of acute food insecurity, classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Flooding, high maize prices, and pests drive the country’s acute food insecurity despite a good harvest. The highly food insecure population requires urgent humanitarian assistance to reduce food gaps, protect and restore livelihoods and prevent acute malnutrition. The situation has particularly deteriorated in the Western province, where five districts were classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

Over 1 million people in Malawi are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity, classified in Crisis (IPC Phase between July and September 2021. Despite Malawi’s record high maize production of 46% above the five-year average, some pockets in these districts and cities experienced severe dry spells and earlier than normal tailing of rainfall. This led to localized production shortfalls coupled with the impact of COVID-19 on remittances, petty trade and self-employment activities. The population experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity require urgent action to reduce food gaps, protect and restore livelihoods and prevent acute malnutrition. Around 3.6 million people are classified in Stressed (IPC Phase 2), experiencing a mild level of food insecurity, while 14.1 million people are food secure– Minimal (IPC Phase 1). All the four urban zones analyzed (Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Zomba) are classified in IPC Phase 2 (Stressed) while the rural areas are in IPC Phase 2 (Stressed) – 16 areas out of the 28 analyzed – or in IPC Phase 1 (none/minimal).

The worst drought in the last 40 years and rising food prices have resulted in high acute food insecurity in the Cunene, Huila and Namibe provinces of South-Western Angola. An IPC Acute Food Insecurity analysis of 17 municipalities of Southern Angola found that, between July and September 2021, around 1.32 million people (49% of the analysed population) have experienced high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above), of which 38% are in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and 12% in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency). These people face difficulties in accessing food or are only able to meet the minimum food requirements through crisis and/or emergency coping strategies. Between October 2021 and March 2022, the number of people in IPC Phase 3 or above is expected to rise to around 1.58 million people (58% of the analysed population), of which 42% are likely in IPC Phase 3 and 15% in IPC Phase 4. Three of the municipalities are also expected to move to a worse phase (Chicomba, Moçâmedes and Tômbua).

Around 27 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) between September and December 2021, of which around 6.1 million people are experiencing critical levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 4). The country has the largest number of highly food insecure people in the world. This food insecurity is a result of a combination of conflict, economic decline, high food prices and the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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According to IPC Acute Food Insecurity analysis issued in September 2021 and covering the period from July to September 2021, about 1.18 million people in Zambia were facing high levels of acute food insecurity, classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) with 77,938 people being most affected in Luapula, Lusaka and Western provinces.

For the current period (November 2021 to March 2022), which coincides with the lean season, approximately 1.9 million people are estimated to be in high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) in the urban and rural areas of Mozambique that were analysed, and are in need of humanitarian assistance. Of these, 71% (1.32 million people) are in the four provinces of Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Nampula and Zambézia, where many of the country’s Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are concentrated. One district of Tete (Changara), one of Manica (Tambara) and three of Gaza (Chibuto, Mabalane and Guijá) are classified in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis)

An estimated 7.3 million people in Angola are facing food and nutrition insecurity due to climate shocks. An estimated 3.9 million children are in need of assistance. Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) admissions among children 6 to 59 months at mid-year 2021 have already exceeded the 2020 total caseload. An estimated 1.2 million people are facing water scarcity as a direct consequence of the drought and have had their water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions compromised by COVID-19.

Malawi: In the current period of November 2021 to December 2021, about 1.4 million people (7% of the population) are estimated to be experiencing Crisis levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) and require urgent humanitarian action to reduce food gaps, protect and restore livelihoods and prevent acute malnutrition. Around 4.4 million people are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) while 13.1 million people are food secure (IPC Phase 1). Out of all rural districts, district towns and cities analysed, 26 areas are classified in IPC Phase 2 (Stressed) while six are classified in IPC Phase 1 (Minimal). No areas are classified in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) or IPC Phase 4 (Emergency). Out of the 1.4 million people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), around 186,000 are from urban areas (Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Zomba and Blantyre cities), representing 8% of the urban population, whilst the remaining 1.2 million people are from the rural areas and the Bomas, representing 7% of the rural and Boma population.

Overall, there is concern for the 2021/22 season as rainfall through mid-December has been significantly below average across MadagascarMalawi, central and northern Mozambique, and northwestern Zimbabwe. Across these areas, drought conditions are ongoing to start the season. Land preparation activities are delayed, and planting has yet to begin across many areas as of November. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are ongoing across rainfall deficit areas and areas of northern Mozambique and eastern DRC impacted by continued conflict. Humanitarian assistance in southern Madagascar and Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique is improving household food consumption, where Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are ongoing, respectively.

Between December 2021 and March 2022, around 336,000 people (29% of the population in Eswatini) are estimated to be facing high acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 Crisis or above) and require urgent humanitarian assistance. Of this population, 286,000 people are classified in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and 50,000 in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency). An additional 376,000 are classified in IPC Phase 2 (Stressed) and require livelihood support. Compared to the October 2021 – March 2022 projection period from the August 2021 analysis, this update shows a slight deterioration, with a slight increase in the food insecure population in IPC Phase 3 or above in all livelihood zones except for Highveld Cattle and Maize, Timber Highlands and Moist Middleveld, with the latter two having 47% of their households having food stocks lasting more than six months. This update has seen the population projected to be in IPC Phase 3 or above increase by 19,000 people.

Tanzania: For the current period of analysis (November 2021 – April 2022), about 437,000 people, representing 13% of an analysed population of 3.4 million, are estimated to be experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above). Overall, an estimated 22,000 people (1% of the population analysed) are classified in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) and around 415,000 people (12% of the population analysed) in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis). Around 785,000 people (23% of the population analysed) are classified in IPC Phase 2 (Stressed). Amongst the 14 councils of Tanzania analysed (12 district councils [DCs] and the rural parts of two town councils [TCs]), four councils (Handeni DC, Longido, Mkinga, and Monduli) are classified in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis), with 20% to 30% of their population experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity (Phase 3 or above). The rest of the councils are classified in IPC Phase 2 (Stressed). (IPC, 1 Mar 2022))


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