Southern Africa - Situation report September 2016

Southern Africa - Situation report September 2016
Sep 2016

Situation overview

The 2015/16 agricultural season in Southern Africa was the driest in 35 years. In a region where over 70 percent of the population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, and following two, and in some cases three, consecutive years of drought, El Niño has had devastating impacts on the lives and livelihoods of farmers and herders. Food reserves and seed stocks have been depleted, and water and pasture scarce. More than 643 000 livestock deaths have been reported in five countries alone due to lack of feed and water and disease outbreak.

The 2015/16 harvest assessments indicate a regional shortfall of nearly 9.3 million tonnes of cereal production. The high regional deficit is driving up staple food prices and constraining the already limited purchasing power of vulnerable families. The situation is already urgent with at least 40 million people projected to be food insecure in the 2016/17 lean season, 22 million of whom requiring immediate assistance.

Drought emergencies have been declared by BotswanaLesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. In addition, eight of South Africa’s nine provinces, which account for almost 90 percent of the country’s maize production – and critically important for exports within the region –, have been declared drought disaster areas.

The planting season is fast approaching. Funding is urgently needed to help improve access to agricultural inputs. Populations dependent mainly on livestock for their food security and livelihoods will require feed support and protection against pests and diseases during the ongoing dry season.

Emergency activities in the agriculture sector will not only enable families to regain their livelihoods, but contribute to closing the food gap and reduce reliance on emergency food aid.