External Shocks

Controlling Fall Armyworm

Africa south of the Sahara continues to struggle against an invasion of Fall Armyworm. Since its first appearance in Nigeria in early 2016, the pest has spread to 28 countries. Driving the rapid spread of the pest is the region’s climate – fall armyworm tends to thrive in areas where drought is followed by heavy rains, a pattern that has intensified in recent years in many areas of Africa south of the Sahara.

Conflict, Drought Continue to Hamper Food Security

FEWS Net has recently released regional updates for East Africa and West Africa, as well as a food security alert for the Horn of Africa.

East Africa Facing Food Security Crisis

The Horn of Africa will continue to face a significant food security crisis into early 2018, according to a new alert released by FEWS Net. Poor rains in March-June – the second consecutive below-average season – have exacerbated already reduced livestock and agricultural conditions in many areas of the region. In some areas, particularly Ethiopia and Somalia, rainfall totals from June 2016 to May 2017 were the lowest or second-lowest seen in over three decades.

Adapting to Climate Change

Agriculture, much of it rain-fed, provides the main source of livelihoods in rural communities in Ethiopia. Drought has long been a challenge for Ethiopia’s farmers, but rural communities are facing new adverse effects due to climate change.  A new study published in Agriculture & Food Security investigates how smallholder farmers perceive climate change, what adaptation practices they use, and what factors influence farmers’ adaptation decisions.

Fall Armyworm Hits South and East Africa

South and East Africa continue to grapple with an invasion of fall armyworm (FAW) invasion. This pest, never seen on the continent until 2016, is native to the US, and it remains unclear how it was first introduced to Africa. Prolonged dry spells and heavy rains are being blamed for the prevalence of the pest, as these conditions seem to provide a thriving breeding ground.

South Sudan and Somalia Facing Famine Conditions

New reports from FEWS Net and the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) are highlighting the ongoing threat of famine in South Sudan. According to the IPC report, released on February 20, almost 5 million people are estimated to be in need of humanitarian food assistance; this accounts for 42 percent of South Sudan’s population.

Pests Threatening Food Security

An emergency meeting this week in Harare, Zimbabwe will focus on the spread of the fall armyworm caterpillar throughout much of southern Africa. Experts from 13 countries will join FAO, the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), the Southern African Development Committee (SADC), and the International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA) to discuss how the pest can be stopped in an environmentally sustainable way.

Horn of Africa Facing Drought, Famine

The Horn of Africa received only one-quarter of the expected rainfall from October through December, leading to widespread drought and potential famine conditions. An emergency alert from FEWS Net issued on January 25 states that emergency food assistance needs in the region are “unprecedented”, particularly in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen, where the threat of famine is particularly strong.

Excess Rainfall, Pests Pose Food Security Challenge in Southern Africa

A new Southern Africa regional alert from FEWS Net has forecast crop damage due to recent heavy rains and an outbreak of fall Armyworm.

December saw consistent severe rains in several parts of the region.  This heavy rainfall has leached nutrients from the soil and prevented households from working on their farms. FEWS Net reports that both of these factors may adversely affect crop yields.

FEWS Net Outlook for Southern Africa

A recent Food Security Outlook Report released by FEWS Net forecasts that for November 2016 – May 2017, food security conditions throughout southern Africa will worsen for many poor households. Deteriorating food security will be driven partly by normal seasonal trends, as this period is the peak of the lean season in the region, and partly by the 2015-2016 El Niño cycle, which delayed or reduced harvests in many countries.

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