Based on the recent Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook seasonal forecast, there are increased chances of normal to below-normal rains from October through December across most of the region. For the southern half of the region, increased chances of normal to below-normal will continue from January through March 2016. In contrast, normal to above-normal rains are expected for the northern half of the region from January through March, covering northern parts of Zimbabwe, northwestern Angola, Malawi, northeastern Zambia, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and northern Madagascar.
The Climate Prediction Center’s El Niño Advisory shows that there is approximately a 95 percent chance that the El Niño will continue through the remainder of 2015 and will likely weaken by the end of the rainy season in 2016. Based on an analysis of previous El Niño events, most of the region is expected to experience erratic rains, possibly leading to a late start, along with poorly distributed rains for the first half of the season. These conditions will likely result in inadequate moisture for crops, which could adversely impact weeding opportunities that normally provide incomes for very poor and poor households during the lean season.
Following below-normal harvests during the 2014-15 agricultural season, poor households in southern parts of Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Madagascar, Lesotho, and Angola are now relying entirely on market purchases for their staple because own-produced cereal stocks were finished months earlier than normal. Some poor households in the southern region of Zimbabwe, Malawi, and parts of Madagascar are already experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity because higher than normal food prices are hindering access. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected in several other parts of the region. The only areas in the region where acute food insecurity will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through December include South Africa, northern Zambia, and northern Tanzania, where households are still consuming their own-produced cereals.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 35 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.