Gaborone – Amidst political instability in several countries and a raging COVID-19 pandemic, SADC member states can celebrate a good 2020-21 cereal crop harvest, data from the Famine Security Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet) shows.
In a report, Fewsnet however warns that any further civil instability in South Africa such as seen last month could affect several SADC members as that country is a key supply and logistical source for the region. Countries most at risk of a ripple effect from South African instability are Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Regardless, Fewsnet says Malawi and Zimbabwe are expecting surplus cereal harvests, while several other countries have solid production figures.
Owing to above-average cereal production, staple food prices are expected to be stable and could even decline in some areas.
“Nonetheless, Southern Madagascar was affected by a severe drought, with very poor production of cereal and tubers,” the report says, adding that, “Southern Madagascar is among Fewsnet’s countries of highest concern due to consecutive droughts driving extreme losses in food and income access. Crisis outcomes are ongoing in the post-harvest period.”
The report says, emergency outcomes are expected to emerge in Ambovombe and Ampanihy districts in October.
“Madagascar was affected by consecutive droughts leading to extremely low cereal and tuber production in the 2020/21 season. The forecast for the start of the 2021/22 rainy season is being closely monitored, given concerns about a possible late start of rainfall, which would have further negative effects on agricultural labor opportunities, wild food availability, production, and prices 2022,” the report says.
It says conflict in eastern DRC and northern Mozambique continues to disrupt livelihood activities.
“In DRC, clashes between the national army and rebel groups continue, and the number of displaced people continues to increase. This is leading to disruption of livelihoods and increased food insecurity. Crisis outcomes will therefore persist in Eastern DRC and Cabo Delgado through January 2022,” says the report.
It notes that in the rest of the region, minimal and stressed outcomes are expected to be widespread as households consume food from own production. Although, crisis outcomes are expected to emerge in some deficit areas while stressed outcomes become more widespread.
“Violent protests erupted in South Africa, resulting in more than 200 deaths, many injuries, massive looting, burning of trucks, buildings, destruction of property and infrastructure. The unrest resulted in the sudden loss of labor opportunities and employment for many vulnerable South Africans, let alone regional migrants,” the report says.
It says among the affected areas was the Port of Durban, which could lead to some short-term impacts on regional supply chains as most regional markets depend on this port.
According to the report, Southern Africa is at the peak of the third wave of COVID-19, with a high number of cases and deaths being experienced across the region. As of July 1, 2.5 million COVID-19 cases and 72,000 associated deaths were reported across the region since the start of the pandemic.
“Most countries, including South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, DRC, and Malawi, have placed restriction measures to avoid further spread of the pandemic. The restrictions have slowed down economic activities and are negatively impacting trade, labor, and employment. In particular, labor migration and remittances have slowed down due to restriction measures in South Africa, the main regional labor market,” the report says.