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January, 2016
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HARARE, The mining industry in Zimbabwe will defy the odds that have seen the sector register negative growth in the past two years to record 1.6 per cent growth this year, according to findings of an industry study released here. Hit by declining inte...
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HARARE, Zimbabwe has chosen to prioritize implementation of 10 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the government seeks to uplift the lives of its citizens, says the Permanet Secretary of the Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning and I...
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FAO GIEWS Country Brief on Zambia (26-January-2016)

Reference Date: 26-January-2016


  1. Crop prospects in 2016 weakened by El Niño‑related dry conditions, with severely suppressed rains in southern parts

  2. Between May and October 2015 about 0.5 million tonnes of maize were exported, mostly to Zimbabwe

  3. Maize prices above their year‑earlier levels, following steep increases at the end of 2015

  4. Overall stable food security conditions, but pockets of food insecurity exist mainly in southern and western areas reflecting lower households’ food supplies

El Niño-associated dry conditions weaken 2016 crop prospects

Harvesting of the 2016 main cereal crop is expected to begin in April, however, due to the later-than-normal start of seasonal rains, which delayed plantings, the bulk of the harvest is only anticipated to commence in late May. Rains since October have been poorly distributed and below-average, particularly in southern areas, reflecting the influence of the prevailing El Niño episode. This has resulted in overall reduced cereal plantings, with preliminary estimates indicating a decline of up to 20 percent, with steeper contractions in the worst affected Southern and Western provinces. The insufficient rains have also retarded crop development, with many areas exhibiting below-average vegetation growth, notably in southern parts that represent some of the main producing regions. Crop conditions and prospects in the Eastern and Northern provinces are more promising, reflecting generally favourable rains.

Weather forecasts, which continue to be influenced by the weakening El Niño, point to a higher probability of below-normal rains until April 2016 across large portions of the country, with higher chances of supressed rains in southern parts.

Although only at the halfway point of the cropping season, production prospects in 2016 have been severely weakened by the persistent drier condition. A Government-led crop assessment, expect to be conducted in March-April, will deliver a more detailed estimate on 2016 plantings, which will provide a better indication on likely harvest outcomes. However, current conditions point to an increasing likelihood of a below-average 2016 maize output.

Large maize volumes exported in 2015/16, while maize imports are expected in 2016/17

National maize supplies in the 2015/16 marketing year (May/April), despite a 21 percent decrease in the 2015 output, were estimated to be more than adequate for domestic consumption requirements. This reflected the record crop of 2014 that reinforced grain stocks and resulted in large carryover supplies into 2015/16, estimated at close to 1 million tonnes. As a result, between May and October 2015 nearly 500 000 tonnes of maize were exported, the bulk of which was shipped to Zimbabwe.

However, on account of the expected below-average 2016 harvest, the Government has announced the creation of an inter-ministerial task force, which is tasked to develop plans to import maize, largely from South America, that will help to stabilize supplies in 2016/17.

Maize prices increased steeply in last quarter of 2015

The national average maize grain prices in December 2015 were about 50 percent above their year-earlier values, driven higher by the reduced 2015 output and consequent tighter supplies, while strong export demand and the depreciation of the kwacha also provided upward support.

Maize meal prices are also higher, but have not risen as sharply as grain prices. Electricity tariffs increased at the end of 2015, partly to pay for the higher costs of importing power, due to some power outages caused by lower water supplies for hydroelectric plants. This is likely to increase production costs and, therefore, add further upward pressure on maize meal prices and other processed food products. The lower water supplies could also limit irrigation operations.

Pockets of food insecurity in southern and western areas

At the national level, food security conditions are stable; however, there are pockets of food insecurity in localized areas, mainly in Southern and Western provinces that experienced reduced 2015 harvests. Results from the 2015 Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s evaluation indicated that just under 800 000 people require food assistance in a total of 31 districts. Food security conditions in 2016/17 could worsen further, if a second successive reduced cereal output transpires in 2016.

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WHO Convenes Zika Meeting

They are also holding a press conference later in the day. The key question is whether the WHO will formally declare Zika a “public health emergency of international concern,” which sets into motion certain bureaucratic processes to facilitate a global response to the emerging crisis. (Reuters http://reut.rs/1UrUG32)

Zika reaches more European countries…Denmark and Switzerland on Wednesday joined a growing number of European countries to report Zika infections among travellers returning from Latin America, where the mosquito-borne virus has been blamed for a surge in birth defects. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KFcjXy)

The Zika-Poverty Nexus….Mark interviews Dr. Peter Hotez about the outbreak, it’s potential impact on the health systems of countries like Haiti, and why poverty in the southern United States may exacerbate the crisis. (Global Dispatches Podcast http://bit.ly/1Sc9OEd)

Stat of the day: More than 6 billion people live in countries where serious levels of public sector corruption are fuelling inequality and exploitation and locking millions of men, women and children into poverty, according to the annual index of perceived corruption. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1OYU41c)


South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar is taking his campaign against President Salva Kiir’s plan to create 28 states to the African Union today. (VOA http://bit.ly/1OYSMTM)

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has ordered the opening of his country’s border with South Sudan for the first time since the latter seceded in 2011. (BBC http://bbc.in/1UrTQmS )

Three youths were seriously injured in clashes with police in Sierra Leone after authorities ordered village traders to shut up shop while they hunted for people who may have had contact with an Ebola victim, witnesses said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1PE66CE)

African states are trying to push President Pierre Nkurunziza to accept peacekeeping troops at a summit this week to prevent Burundi sliding back into ethnic conflict but there is little hope that he will agree, officials said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1SJXyur)

Cameroon closed most of its northern markets on the border with Nigeria after a series of bomb attacks Monday left at least 35 people dead and 70 wounded in the town of Bodo. (VOA http://bit.ly/1PB5kjR)

With El Nino affecting countries in southern Africa, threatening agricultural production due to a massive heat wave, the World Food Programme has urged the international community to support the upscaling of climate smart agricultural technology for resilience. (IPS http://bit.ly/1KFcpym)

Namibia is currently experiencing chronic food insecurity as a result of drought. Assessments indicate it is the worst crop performance in 80 years. An estimated 578,480 people have been affected with at least 16 per cent of the population in need of urgent food support, now and through the next harvest in April. (ICRC http://bit.ly/1PB5h7x)

As the humanitarian system debates how to reshape the way aid is delivered, Dadaab offers some practical examples of how camp-based communities can play a positive role in the management of their own affairs. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1PE4au4)

South African comedian Trevor Noah, the host of America’s “The Daily Show”, will release a book about being the child of an illegal mixed race relationship under apartheid, his publishers said Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KFcn9K)


Italy’s coast guard said on Tuesday it had coordinated the rescue of 1,271 migrants from rubber and wooden boats in several operations off the coast of Libya. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1OYSOen)

A U.N. panel is asking the Security Council to set up an inquiry into alleged violations of international law by all sides in Yemen. (VOA http://bit.ly/1OYU3KA)

With new peace talks set to begin this week, humanitarian agencies called Tuesday for unimpeded access to millions of besieged people in Syria and for the funds needed to support lifesaving operations there. (VOA http://bit.ly/1PE66To)

The United Nations launched an appeal on Wednesday for $393 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to help millions of vulnerable people this year. (AP http://yhoo.it/1PE4kld)

Amnesty International says scores of youths in Iran are languishing on death row for crimes committed under the age of 18, under laws that permit girls as young as 9 and boys as young as 15 to be executed. (VOA http://bit.ly/1OYU1m5)

As worsening levels of air pollution in the Indian capital impact the health of citizens, New Delhi has begun taking steps to tackle the menace. But experts are urging long-term action to clean up what the World Health Organization said is the world’s dirtiest air. (VOA http://bit.ly/1KFcrGI)

The head of the bureau that gathers China’s economic data is under investigation by the anti-graft agency in a possible expansion of an anticorruption campaign that has shaken state companies and securities firms. (AP http://yhoo.it/1PE6bq9)

The Americas

Brazil’s Federal Police on Wednesday launched the latest stage of a sweeping investigation into corruption at state-controlled firms, with six arrest and 15 search warrants issued in the states of São Paulo and Santa Catarina. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1SJXwmk)

U.S. President Obama will propose in his 2017 budget next month that families who qualify for subsidized school meals be given a special electronic benefits card that will allow them to buy an additional $45 in groceries per child each month when school is out. (NPR http://n.pr/1KFcnH1)

The outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil and other countries has raised concern that the pathogen could start spreading widely in the United States, as well. But federal health officials and other infectious disease specialists say so far that seems unlikely. (NPR http://n.pr/1OYU15m)

The rapid spread of the Zika virus has raised interest in a British company that has developed a genetically modified mosquito. Oxitec has produced a genetically engineered line of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the mosquito that carries dengue fever and chikungunya. (NPR http://n.pr/1OYTXCX)

…and the rest

More aggressive tactics by authoritarian regimes, an upsurge in terrorist attacks and a global economic downturn have contributed to a disturbing decline in global freedom in 2015, according to a U.S.-based international human rights group. (VOA http://bit.ly/1PB5hUX)


The World is Ever Shrinking for Syrians. And Not Just for Refugees. (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1PEaxO0)

Focus On Poverty – Could Half-Built Homes End Slums? (SciDevNet http://bit.ly/1OYSPPD)

Analysis: US student arrest renews scrutiny of NKorean tours (AP http://yhoo.it/1SJXr1R)

Is it time to redefine ODA? (Devex http://bit.ly/1SK0FCx)

Fighting ISIS on social media: Why swing back when we can swing first? (The Interpreter http://bit.ly/1Qs6C3C)

Introducing the Australian Aid Tracker (DevPolicy http://bit.ly/1JEPnwR)

Secret aid worker: ‘I was the obscure African girl in a room full of white faces’ (Guardian http://bit.ly/1OYWexM)

What’s really going on with Zimbabwe? (Cherokee Gothic http://bit.ly/1PE9o97)

More Phony Numbers–This Time on the Anticorruption Impact of Open Data (Global Anticorruption Blog http://bit.ly/1PEaEcn)

Seven ideas on how to finance the SDGs (Guardian http://bit.ly/1JERiBE)



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Southern Africa’s food crisis in numbers

Southern Africa is facing the threat of extensive crop failures this year as a result of record low rainfall in a region in which 29 million people already don't have reliable access to enough affordable and nutritious food. 

“With little or no rain falling in many areas and the window for the planting of cereals closing fast or already closed in some countries, the outlook is alarming,” the World Food Programme has warned.

“The region is ill prepared for a shock of this magnitude, particularly since the last growing season was also affected by drought. This means depleted regional stocks, high food prices, and substantially increased numbers of food insecure people,” the UN agency said.

Southern Africa is feeling the impact of an intense El Niño that began last year. According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, continued below-average rainfall and high temperatures are likely to persist in 2016, with the food crisis lasting into 2017.

The following are the worst-affected countries:

South Africa

The biggest victim of the drought. It’s the region’s main maize producer, but last year output fell 30 percent below the bumper 2014 season and it may have to import around 6 million tonnes. Planting of the 2016 cereal crop began later than normal due to delayed rains. Small-scale farmers have been hammered by the drought, with emergencies declared in five out of nine provinces, as well as areas of two other provinces. There have been reports of farmers committing suicide.


The 2014/15 cereal harvest was 24 percent down on the five-year average. Currently, 2.8 million people are "food insecure" (they lack access to food that's sufficient to lead healthy and active lives) out of a population of 16 million as a result of flooding and drought last year. Average maize prices were at a record high in December 2015. The government’s $146-million Food Insecurity Response Plan is so far 48 percent funded.


The 2014/15 cereal harvest was 42 percent down on the five-year average. An estimated 1.5 million people are food insecure, with 600,000 in "crisis" - meaning they are forced to skip meals, there are high rates of malnutrition, or have sold their livestock to make ends meet. A new vulnerability assessment is under way and the figures are likely to be even worse. Zimbabwe’s $132-million drought response plan is 44 percent funded.

A drought that scorched Namibia spread into Angola’s three southern provinces – Cunene, Huila, and Cuando Cubango. Whereas Namibia is on top of its crisis, Angola, even though it is Africa’s second largest oil producer, is not. In Cunene, 800,000 people – 72 percent of the population – have been hit by crop losses and livestock deaths, with child malnutrition rates beyond the emergency threshold of 15 percent. “The situation is worsened by insufficient resources, including human, logistical, critical nutritional and medical supplies, and funding,” according to UN sources. Nationwide 1.25 million are at risk. 


El Niño's climate impact splits the country in two – in the north there has been flooding, in the south drought. More than 176,000 people are in crisis in the provinces of Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala, and Niassa, until at least the next harvest. A further 575,455 people are food insecure, especially in Zambézia, Maputo, and Niassa provinces. Around 50,300 people are receiving food assistance in Gaza and Sofala.


Zambia has been an exporter of maize to the region, but last year’s production was 21 percent down on 2014. Zambia’s ample stocks enabled it to still export to neighbouring and needy Zimbabwe, but close to 800,000 Zambians are also at risk of food and livelihoods insecurity.


Southern Africa food crisis 2016
And worse may be to come



Some 650,000 people – one third of the population – do not have enough food.  Some projections indicate the numbers affected could surpass 725,000. Water rationing is under way in several districts, impacting not just agriculture, but also industries, schools, and hospitals. Water shortages are increasing the likelihood of waterborne and livestock diseases. The government has committed $9.7 million towards a $36.5 million appeal.



Nearly 1.9 million people – 46 percent of the population – were “food insecure” in 2015, with 450,000 of them in crisis. The drought-hit southern regions of Androy, Anosy, and Atsimo Andrefana are struggling badly, with 380,000 people – 30 percent of the population – affected.


One of the countries least able to cope with crisis. Though nominally a low-middle income country, levels of stunting among children are historically around 31 percent. More than 201,000 people out of 1.1 million – one fifth of the population – are food insecure. Maize prices have increased by 66 percent in a country in which just under half of the population are unemployed, and which has the world’s highest rate of HIV infection. Livestock have succumbed to the drought, and carcasses of cattle are now a common sight in the fields that used to feed them. Swaziland is ruled by an executive monarchy, with a reputation of lavish spending on white elephant projects. And yet its central bank has released only $75,000 for drought relief.


The 2015 maize crop was 44 percent lower than 2014’s (above-average) output.  Around half of all dryland commercial farmers experienced total crop losses as a result of the drought and high temperatures. An estimated 370,316 people are food insecure and the target of a government drought relief programme.

The Democratic Republic of Congo

Fighting in the east of the county worsens DRC’s food insecurity. Orientale, Equateur, South Kivu, and Katanga provinces are already at emergency levels. An estimated 6.6 million people face food shortages.


* The story has been amended to better define "food insecurity"

102391 Mphatlalatsane Agriculture Cooperative in Hantsi village, Machache, Lesotho, has lots of leftover maize inputs this year as many local farmers decided the weather was too erratic to risk planting Analysis Food Southern Africa’s food crisis in numbers Obi Anyadike IRIN NAIROBI Angola Lesotho Madagascar Malawi Mozambique Namibia South Africa Swaziland Zambia Zimbabwe
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