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Southern Africa: Humanitarian Snapshot (as of 26 February 2018)

Key Figures
- 75% shortfall in rain in large parts of the region during January
- 14,732 cholera cases and 218 deaths reported since 2017
- 234,200 people affected by floods and cyclones in 2018


The annual floods and cyclone season in Southern Africa (October - May) has already impacted some 234,200 people. In Madagascar, Tropical Cyclone Ava, which made landfall on 5 January 2018, caused fatalities, displacement of people, damage to infrastructure and flooding of thousands of hectares planted with rice. Northern Mozambique was affected by heavy rainfall in January.

Humanitarian partners and SADC are increasingly concerned about the humanitarian consequences of a late start to the rainy season (October to April), minimal to no rains during the critical planting season (December-January), high temperatures and the prevalence of fall armyworm. This has caused irreversible damage to crop production in some countries. Mozambique has issued an ‘Orange Alert’ and South Africa has declared a national emergency in response to the drought. Countries are undertaking assessments to ascertain the impact, which is expected to be significant.

Across the region, severe rainfall deficits were recorded by the end of January. Rains returned in February in parts of the region. Southern and central Mozambique, parts of southern Malawi and southern Zimbabwe recorded rainfall in excess of 100mm. However, some crops had permanently wilted. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), only very light rains were recorded in the band from Botswana, across northern South Africa/southern Zimbabwe, into southern Mozambique. Fall armyworm infestation has been recorded in all countries in Southern Africa and Malawi declared a national disaster due to the pest of fall armyworm in December 2017.

Reduced cereal production is projected in Southern Africa. South Africa, the largest producer of white maize in the region, is already projecting a 22 per cent decline in crop production this season. Due to last season’s above-average harvests, staple prices in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique remain atypically lower than both the five-year average and the same period last season.

Cholera, which is endemic in several Southern Africa countries, is currently affecting Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Zambia is the country worst affected in 2018 with 4,711 cases recorded to date. Zimbabwe has the highest case fatality rate (3.7 per cent).

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Original Publication Date: 
26 Feb 2018
Map/Infographic Type: 
Humanitarian Snapshot
Inter-Cluster Coordination
Natural Disasters