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Abnormal Dry Weather and Ongoing Conflict Pose Food Security Challenges throughout Africa

Africa South of the Sahara is currently experiencing several regional challenges to food security, according to FEWS Net. These include two of the most common drivers of increased food insecurity: conflict and weather-related shocks.

In West Africa, ongoing conflict continues to disrupt agricultural production, rural livelihoods, and food access in Nigeria. Many agricultural households have been unable to engage in labor activities, which has impacted the ongoing dry season harvest and in turn lowered these households’ purchasing power. Opportunities for labor outside of the agricultural sector – such as petty trading or construction work – are also scarce. FEWS Net expects food access to remain low while food prices remain abnormally high due to the below-average 2020-2021 harvest. Prices will likely be driven even higher due to the high demand in conflict-affected areas, where households can no longer turn to their own production and instead need to rely on market access. These factors are expected to drive IPC Phase 3 (Crisis-level) food insecurity throughout much of the northern areas of the country, with more remote areas at risk of Phase 4 (Emergency) or even Phase 5 (Famine) food insecurity.

The situation in Nigeria is being further exacerbated by poor macroeconomic conditions in the country. Nigeria’s foreign reserves are low, and its inflation rate is the highest it’s been since April 2017.

In the Horn of Africa, it’s weather rather than conflict posing a problem for food security. The region has experienced below average rainfall since mid-February, with South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Ethiopia all reporting dry conditions. While parts of Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Kenya might receive light rainfall in the coming weeks, the abnormally dry weather is expected to continue in the region. FEWS Net reports that these conditions have already impacted vegetation and could hurt cropping activities.

In addition, swarms of desert locusts continue to be observed throughout the Horn of Africa, particularly in Tanzania. That country has already been particularly hard hit by the pest outbreak.  

In southern Africa, above average rainfall and heavy downpours been reported in several areas, including central Angola, eastern Namibia, Malawi, and eastern Zambia. Heavy rains are expected to continue in Angola, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. However, the rest of the region is experiencing below average precipitation. The continued lack of rainfall could lead to dry conditions that would hamper agricultural production. Southern Africa also continues to struggle with desert locusts infestations that have destroyed crops in some areas and pose a threat for maturing crops.