Southern Africa - Situation report October 2016

Southern Africa - Situation report October 2016
Oct 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.

Drought emergencies have been declared by Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, as well as in the Grand Sud of Madagascar. Mozambique issued a Red Alert, and eight of South Africa’s nine provinces have been declared drought disaster areas, which account for almost 90 percent of the country’s maize production and are critically important for exports within the region.

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.

The planting season is starting and will extend through the end of December in some areas for certain crops. Given the positive rainfall forecast for most of the subregion by the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF), if farmers do not receive timely input assistance, this could be a missed opportunity for household recovery. With the imminent threat of locust infestation in the subregion, support must be provided to monitoring, surveillance and pest control.

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.

FAO’s response

In response to soaring needs, FAO launched its Southern Africa El Niño Response Plan, appealing for USD 109 million to assist 3.4 million pastoral, agropastoral and smallholder farming households across ten countries. The appeal is now 38 percent funded. To address the scale and magnitude of the crisis, FAO declared Corporate Surge Support for Southern Africa on 4 July, lasting until 15 February 2017. Providing overall coordination for the implementation of the Response Plan, the capacity of the FAO Southern Africa Resilience Hub (SFS-REOSA) has been enhanced to increase technical and operational support to affected countries.

Food security and agriculture information and analysis are prioritized through support to crop and input assessments, national Vulnerability Assessment Committees and Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) processes. To inform response, regional seed and agricultural inputs and water availability assessments have been finalized. FAO actively supports subregional partners, including the Southern African Development Community, and is an active member of several coordination platforms, including the Regional Interagency Steering Committee (RIASCO), Food Security and Nutrition Working Group, IPC Technical Working Group and RIASCO Resilience Working Group.