Following below-average 2014/15 production in several southern African countries, regional cereal stocks have fallen approximately 15 percent below average. Among the surplus producing countries, South Africa and Zambia also experienced below-average production, contributing in large part to a regional cereal supply deficit of above 1.3 million tons. Individual countries facing significant cereal deficits this marketing and consumption year include Zimbabwe, Malawi, Madagascar, Lesotho, and Swaziland.
Poor households in southern parts of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar, Lesotho, and Angola finished their own production stocks earlier than normal and will have an earlier lean season this year. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected in the countries from July to September. As regional cereal supplies decrease and prices increase, the situation will likely deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity from October to December in these areas. Elsewhere in the region, households are expected to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes between July and December.
As the 2015-16 agriculture season draws nearer, there is a 90 percent chance that an El Niño will develop during the October to December period. Historically, El Niño conditions are associated with below-average and erratic rainfall in the southeastern parts of the region during this period. These conditions might result in a late start of season in the southern parts of Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, which could limit labor opportunities. If these El Niño conditions were realized during the 2015-16 season, this would be the second consecutive year of poor rainfall for southern parts of the region.