Southern Africa Key Message Update: Humanitarian assistance needs increase in some areas due to the early start of the lean season, October 2020 – Zimbabwe


  • As the lean season begins in parts of Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar, humanitarian assistance needs in the region are increasing. In deficit-producing areas of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Madagascar, and conflict-affected regions of DRC and Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, poor households continue to have difficulty meeting their food needs and will most likely experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through at least January. In other areas of the region, households are still able to consume own foods or meet their food needs through purchases; however, are likely unable to meet their non-food needs, and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are emerging.

  • Staple foods from own production are limited for many poor households in deficit-producing parts of the region. These households have increasing reliance on market purchases for food, resulting in increased demand on the markets. This is expected to trigger price increases in the coming months. Many poor households in Lesotho, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe are expected to have below-normal purchasing power due to continued lower than average income.

  • In September, most governments eased COVID-19 restrictions, with some notable changes observed across most FEWS NET monitored countries. Business operating hours increased across many countries, long-distance inter-city and rural-urban transport services resumed, domestic tourism re-started, and some borders were re-opened. This will most likely increase informal cross-border trade, labor opportunities, and remittance flows; however, remaining below average.

  • International forecasts indicate that average cumulative 2020/21 rainfall is most likely across most FEWS NET monitored countries in Southern Africa, though above-average rainfall is expected in northern Malawi and Mozambique. While this is positive for the 2020/21 agriculture season, there is an increased likelihood of flooding, particularly in low-lying, flood-prone areas of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. Additionally, there is an increased risk of tropical cyclones. Previous high rainfall seasons are also associated with increased incidences of crop and livestock pests and diseases, affecting prospects of improved production, especially for poor households with limited financial capacity for control measures; however, agriculture is generally expected to perform better than previous years.

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