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USAID The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET)

FEWSNET Southern Africa food security report

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET)

7 October 2005

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Southern Africa:
An evidence base for understanding the current food security crisis

  1. How severe is the food security crisis in Southern Africa and where is the crisis located?

    • Southern Africa is currently experiencing a food crisis in Zimbabwe, Malawi, parts of Mozambique, Zambia, Swaziland and Lesotho. At present there are no famine conditions, but unless maize imports are accelerated, and appeals adequately supported to avoid pipeline breaks, a localized price-driven famine threat could develop by November/December in Southern Malawi and Zimbabwe. For more details see country reports and alerts at

  2. What are the underlying causes of the crisis and how many people are affected?

    • Initially, the crisis was the result of drought and reduced agricultural production in the 2004/05 season, layered on top of structural food insecurity and poverty in the region. In both countries this situation is exacerbated by the effects of HIV/AIDS, and, in Zimbabwe, by a failure of governance. The crisis is now worsening because of inadequate commercial imports, a slow international response, and sharply higher cereal prices.

    • Vulnerability Assessment Committees (VACs) in the region led multi-agency analyses in mid-2005, and estimated that 702,000 MT of food assistance are required for 10,720,000 beneficiaries, with 4.6 and 4.9 million of them, respectively, in Malawi and Zimbabwe alone.

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