Southern Africa El Niño Response Plan (2016/17)

  • 10/08/2016
  • FAO

Southern Africa has been struggling with an intense drought that has expanded and strengthened since the earliest stages of the 2015/16 agricultural season, driven by one of the strongest El Niño events of the last 50 years. The effects on food security and livelihoods have been exacerbated by sluggish economic performance in some countries and the depreciation of national currencies set against a background of chronic vulnerabilities. Across many parts of Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the 2015/16 rainfall season (November–April) has been the driest in the last 35 years. Agricultural areas in northern Namibia and southern Angola have also experienced high levels of water deficit. The poor performance of the main rainfall season has grievous implications on households as well as national economies in the region, with particular bearing on food security and medium- to long-term nutrition. Following poor harvests from the 2014/15 season, more than 30 million people in the region were food insecure by early 2016. The poor 2015/16 season has led to a further deterioration in regional food security. Preliminary results of the Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis in June 2016 indicate that 39.7 million people will be acutely food insecure in the SADC region at the peak of the lean season in January to March 2017. This number will likely change as assessments are ongoing in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Mozambique and the United Republic of Tanzania. While the El Niño phenomenon is now declining, its impact continues to be felt and is even expected to increase across Southern Africa. Its impact on food security and agricultural production in the region has been particularly severe and the effects of the drought and resulting food insecurity will likely peak during the lean season between October 2016 and March 2017.