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Southern Africa: Growing Season - Facing El Nino in Difficult Circumstances, 2015-2016


  • The current growing season (October 2015 – April 2016) in Southern Africa will develop during the peak stage of one of the strongest El Nino events in the available record. Unlike previous events, the official onset of this El Nino in March 2015 was preceded by borderline conditions during the previous growing season.
  • Although not a fully-fledged El Nino, these borderline conditions led to extensive rainfall deficits, resulting in widespread drops in crop production. Now the Southern African region has to face a record level El Nino in fairly unfavourable circumstances of low regional stocks and high market prices.
  • Historical records underline the clear link between El Nino events and drops in national maize yield. This link is strongest for the main maize producer (South Africa) and one of the most food insecure countries  (Zimbabwe). Long term satellite data identifies the regions of NE South Africa, southern Mozambique and south and western Zimbabwe as those most strongly affected by El Nino events. 
  • According to expectations, the early stages of the season were characterized by markedly drier than average conditions that led to widespread delays in the start of the season, particularly in eastern South Africa. Vegetation cover is particularly affected given the cumulative effects of the previous season’s poor rainfall.
  • Seasonal forecasts for the current season are pessimistic, providing indications of widespread lower than average rainfall for the duration of the season and most of the region.
Programme Alimentaire Mondial
Date de publication initiale: 
08 déc 2015
Type de Document: 
Gestion de l'Information
Classification de la Phase de Sécurité Alimentaire Intégrée (IPC)
Catastrophes Naturelles