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Southern Africa food security update: June 2007
June 2007
Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET)

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges FEWS NET as the source of this document: www.fews.net/south


A number of Southern African countries are facing reduced crop harvests this season-below both last season and the 5-year average-because of poor crop growing conditions, and, in some cases, poor access to requisite inputs. In particular, maize production, which was more adversely affected by the mid-season drought than most other crops, is forecast to have declined significantly in these countries, including Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, southern Mozambique and South Africa, where maize yields are estimated to have dropped by between 10 percent (Namibia) and 90 percent (Botswana). In Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, where the drought effects have been particularly severe, governments requested crop and food supply assessment missions (CFSAMs) from the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme to help ascertain the impact of poor rainfall on agriculture and livelihoods. Results of these assessments point to the existence of widespread food insecurity and critical food access problems; 401,200 and 407,000 people are estimated to require food assistance in Lesotho and Swaziland respectively, while in Zimbabwe, 2.1 million people are expected to face food shortages from July, peaking at 4 .1 million during the hunger season, which begins in October. In addition to the CFSAMs, more detailed food security and vulnerability analysis is being conducted through on-going national vulnerability assessments (NVAs), not only in the three most-affected countries, but also in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. Together, these findings will provide information for consideration by decision makers that will inform response strategies aimed at meeting the needs of the vulnerable and food insecure. Preliminary results from the NVAs, released at the July 5th Regional Dissemination meeting in Johannesburg confirm findings of earlier assessments and the recent CFSAMs, and provide (among others) initial food assistance projections. In order to revise current food aid projections and refine targeting criteria accordingly in each of these countries, FEWS NET recommends continued monitoring of food security indicators, such as the availability of employment opportunities, labor rates, and staple food prices.

In contrast, the food security situation is projected as satisfactory across most of the countries where production from the on-going harvest is above average following a good crop-growing season. This includes countries to the north of the sub-region, such as Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Angola, as well as northern Mozambique. In these areas, the current harvest is the second consecutive season of above-average production, and food supplies, which were generally satisfactory throughout the past consumption year have given rise to significant carryover stocks from the previous marketing year. Staple food prices have remained stable, and are currently lower than at the same time last year and the past five-year average. Despite the positive harvest outlook, concern remains in localized areas of these countries where the season has been characterized by excessive rains that resulted in flooding, loss of crops and disruption of livelihoods. In Angola, although this year's harvest expectation is normal and anticipated to exceed last year's, production remains insufficient to cover food requirements, and there are several areas (in Cunene, parts of Uige, Huambo, and Benguela) where households face food deficits and are likely to become increasingly food insecure well before the hunger season begins in October.

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