A series of reports from FEWS Net are reporting continued food insecurity in southern Africa, Ethiopia, and the Lake Chad region of Nigeria as a result of weather-related shocks and ongoing conflict.
In Ethiopia, the 2015-2016 El Niño cycle has significantly impacted the Belg and Meher harvests across the central and eastern portions of the country and has reduced pasture regeneration in the northern pastoral areas. This has impacted food availability and access across much of the country, leaving more than 10 million people in need of emergency food assistance in 2016, according to the report. Even in the lowland areas of the Ruft Valley of SNNPR, which have seen near average Belg rainfall, labor income has been below average and staple food prices have been high; this means that Crisis-level food insecurity will continue in this region as well.
In Southern Africa, the main harvest in most countries is expected to be delayed by up to a month; this will extend the lean season in the region, causing continued high demand in food markets and subsequent high food prices. Rainfall did increase in several countries in February and March, which will improve livestock conditions and water availability; however increased moisture this late in the season will have no impact on crop recovery in most areas. Maize supplies are expected to be below average for the second consecutive season. The report cites that poor households in Lesotho, southern Mozambique, southern Madagascar, and southwest Zambia are in Crisis-level food insecurity that is expected to continue through September due to anticipated below average harvests. Similar food insecurity is also predicted for Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, and southern Angola.
Nigeria continues to be plagued with conflict and below average crop yields in the Lake Chad region, driving many households in the area into Stressed and Crisis levels of food insecurity. Increased inflation rates in February have further reduced households' purchasing power, which will exacerbate the typical price increase of staple foods seen during the lean season. Throughout the rest of the country, however, food insecurity for poor households may decrease slightly due to the main dry season harvest for vegetables, rice, and wheat, which is expected to be favorable in April and May, and an early green harvest for maize and yams in May/June. While poor households will still depend mainly on purchased food to meet their needs, the report expects food insecurity levels throughout the rest of the country to minimal.