Southern Africa is forecast to receive below-average rainfall until March, exacerbating the need for food assistance after a severe drought in the previous season caused livestock deaths and crop failures, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.
Corn production will be below the five-year average in 2020 and a high rate of animal deaths is expected in the second half of the year, the Washington-based group, also known as Fews Net, said in a report. The dry conditions will be at their most severe in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with slightly better crop-growing conditions forecast for Mozambique and South Africa, it said.
“Rainfall during the December-to-March period is critical for crop development and likely below-average rainfall is expected to have negative impacts on rain-fed crops, pasture, and water availability,” Fews Net said.
Southern Africa’s temperatures are rising faster than the global average rate, according to the International Panel on Climate Change. This has led to persistent drought, cyclones and flooding in recent years, causing havoc in a region that’s overly dependent on rain-fed farming.
Food will be more readily available during the harvest period in April and May, but the relief is expected to be short-lived, Fews Net said. “Donors and humanitarian partners should prepare for atypically high food assistance needs throughout 2020,” it said.