South Africa is in the throes of the worst drought in 30 years, according to a recent BBC article . Driven by the on-going El Niño cycle , below average rainfall and above average temperatures have limited crop development and water availability throughout the region.
Severe drought, driven by the current El Niño cycle , continues throughout Africa south of the Sahara, and South Africa is one of the countries being hardest hit. According to a new policy brief from the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP), South Africa’s total rainfall in 2015 was the lowest national annual precipitation seen by the South African Weather Service since 1904.
As drought continues throughout southern Africa, the latest FEWS.net alert estimates that 2.5 million people are currently in Crisis food insecurity levels and in need of urgent humanitarian aid across Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Lesotho. The organization is also anticipating that the region’s food-insecure population in 2016-2017 will be at least two times higher than current levels.
Farmers and pastoralists throughout Africa could soon be confronting a dual threat, thanks to this year’s potentially record-breaking El Niño phenomenon. The weather system has the potential to cause both severe drought and significant flooding throughout the continent, leading to reduced or damaged crops, income losses, and increased food insecurity for many of the region’s poorest populations.
The latest CGIAR report on the impact of climate change on African agriculture argues that increased regional temperatures and a greater risk of pests and diseases will affect crop, livestock, and fisheries productivity throughout Africa. Without effective adaptation measures, regional production of maize and beans could decrease by up to 40% relative to the period 1970-2000, leaving areas like Eastern and Southern Africa with a need to rapidly adapt in order to improve and ensure food security.