Blog Post

Below Average Rainfall to Challenge Planting, Food Security in Southern Africa

According to a recent alert from FEWS Net , southern Africa has seen a below average start to the 2019-2020 agricultural season, with rainfall only 55-85 percent of normal levels from October through early December. This decrease in precipitation has negatively impacted planting and germination rates throughout much of the region. The most impacted areas include Lesotho, central and southern Mozambique, Madagascar, South Africa, and western and southern Zambia. The situation will only be further exacerbated by expected continued below average rainfall through May 2020.

In addition to lowered rainfall and harvest prospects, poor macroeconomic conditions in Zimbabwe and continuing conflict in DRC are also negatively impacting households’ livelihoods and food access in the region. The prices of maize and other staple foods in many markets have been above average, placing pressure on poor households’ purchasing power. For example, in South Africa’s main regional markets, maize prices were about 5-10 percent above the five-year average in September and October. Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe are all also experiencing abnormally high staple food prices.

As a result of these factors, many areas of southern Africa are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity. This includes Zimbabwe, eastern DRC, southern Madagascar, southern Malawi, and parts of Mozambique. Ongoing humanitarian aid has been effective in other areas of the region, improving food insecurity to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in parts of Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and Mozambique. FEWS Net anticipates these conditions to last until the April 2020 harvest.