While updated food availability estimates continue to indicate better regional food availability compared to the 2004/05 consumption period, recently completed household level vulnerability assessments in the countries adversely affected by the poor performance of the past rainy season reveal widespread levels of food insecurity among vulnerable groups. As many as 10 million
people in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe have been assessed as food insecure and will need humanitarian assistance until the next harvest. The VAC analyses point to growing levels of poverty, exacerbated by the effects of HIV/AIDS, as the main cause of chronic vulnerability across the region. These findings have prompted national governments and
humanitarian agencies to look beyond short term responses to the food crisis and to develop alternative interventions responding to short term needs while addressing the longer term issues in the region.
Formal intra-regional trade has been encouraged by the existence of large cereal surpluses in South Africa and below average
production in many countries in southern Africa. Meanwhile, informal trade between Mozambique and Malawi is improving food
availability in the latter. Maize retail prices in most of the food deficit countries have been rising rapidly in response to fast
dwindling household supplies, raising concerns about growing food access problems among vulnerable populations.
The Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) has issued an outlook statement for the 2005/06 rainy season
indicating a slightly enhanced chance for a normal to above normal rainfall.