By Mpho Tebele
Gaborone- A Southern African Development Community (SADC) report on the update of the region’s ongoing response to El Nino-induced drought shows that member states are still struggling to close the gap of millions of money needed to mitigate the situation.
The report dated 12 September 2016, said the Food and Agriculture Organisation and SADC member States are undertaking a seed and other agricultural inputs assessment on how farming households can recover in the 2016/17 season.
The report shows that at least US$2,5 billion to cover an estimated 41 million people(about 14% of total SADC population), with 26 million others requiring immediate humanitarian assistance.
The report says the assessment is being undertaken with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and covers Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
According to the report, the assessment was undertaken in two phases, with phase I focusing to establish national level agricultural input supply and demand information, phase II aims to ascertain the capacity of drought-affected farming households and communities.
The findings of the first phase show that there are significant gaps in seed availability throughout the focus countries – most notably in Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique.
Given that seed and input availability in general can be a proxy indicator for agricultural production capacity, the report further said, urgent efforts are needed to support farmers with seeds and other inputs to facilitate production in the forthcoming agricultural season.
Further, the report asserted, efforts should also be made to put in place mechanisms for mainstreaming assessments of seeds and other inputs into vulnerability assessments and other early warning systems, the report says.
Below is an update on how the member states are faring since former SADC chairman and Botswana President Ian Khama launched the humanitarian appeal early this year.
For Angola, the report says the ongoing yellow fever outbreak is of particular concern, with almost at least 2,954 cases and 328 deaths, representing a serious threat not only to Angola, but to the region and beyond.
The report also says an estimated $261 million is required for the response, of which about $27 million has been made available by the Government of Angola.
The report says about 25,741 children under age 5 have been treated for severe acute malnutrition (SAM).
Short-term humanitarian needs include: distribute agricultural inputs, provide technical assistance to smallholder households and Strengthen and expand school feeding programmes in affected areas Provision of WASH emergency services.
Botswana Government declared a national drought disaster on 14 July 2014, which will end on June 30 2017, which aims to assist 1,1 million people, the total rural population of the country.
This comes in the wake of a poor rainfall season where cereal production was estimated at 38,042 tons (14.6% of national requirements) – a 58 per cent decline from the five-year average.
Livestock mortality has been estimated at around 20 per cent in the past two years due to drought, and forage conditions are anticipated to deteriorate throughout the dry season, which lasts until October.
Plans are being developed and support is being provided, including safety nets programmes for the vulnerable people. To date the Government has made $16, 8 million available for the response, leaving a gap of $66,2million.
Rains and subsequent flooding resulting from El Niño caused the destruction of homes, vital food stocks and crops.
An estimated 700,000 people in 11 provinces (out of 26) have been affected from October 2015 to April 2016, resulting in displacements and an increase in waterborne diseases, including cholera, in some localities.
Across the country 7,5 million people (which include the flood affected) have been identified as being food insecure, with 4,5 million requiring immediate humanitarian assistance, according to the Government.
The nutritional status of vulnerable groups in affected areas is particularly at risk.
The unprecedented El Niño-induced drought has resulted in a number of impacts, including water scarcity for human and livestock consumption, crop failure, water-borne disease outbreaks, animal disease outbreaks and malnutrition.
Maize yields decreased by 67 per cent, sorghum by 69 per cent and wheat by 38 per cent.
Even in normal years Lesotho is not able to produce sufficiently for the country’s needs and this situation is currently compounded by the drought and resultant poor production.
The lean period is starting early and it is projected that food insecurity will worsen until the next harvesting April 2017.
Food prices are doubling, the report says, recent assessment conducted in selected districts found that 8.2 per cent of pregnant and lactating mothers were moderately malnourished, which reflects a 37 per cent increase compared to 2014.
An estimated 709,000 people are in need, of which 491,000 are being targeted for assistance. Government is requesting $38 million for a multi-sectoral response, for which it has provided $10 million.
Response needs include the provision of clean water, the prevention and treatment of severe malnutrition and the provision of food.
According to the report, Southern Madagascar, known as the Grand Sud, has been particularly hard hit by an El Niño-induced drought.
The area only received 50 per cent of average rainfall since May 2015, with significant implications for agriculture.
Also, 49,000 children under age five have been targeted for nutrition interventions.
Since April 2016 an estimated 150,000 people have received food assistance, and 37,500 households have received agricultural support. Child nutrition screening is ongoing and 110 tons of supplementary foods for the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM)in children under age five have been locally purchased.
Of the $69,9 million required, of which $34,5 million is needed cover the acute emergency phase (the first six months), $22,8 million has been received (33 percent).
Approximately 130,000 of children underage five will be targeted for lifesaving treatment of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and 193,000 targeted for treatment of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM).
Similarly, 81,000 pregnant and lactating women (PLW) will be targeted for the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition.
Government is requesting $380 million for a multi-sectoral response, for which it has provided $50 million.
The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), is leading the response, with support from humanitarian partners.
Office of the Vice President, through DoDMA, convenes meetings of the Humanitarian Response Committee to monitor the implementation of the food insecurity response.
In addition, DoDMA is facilitating the finalization of the 2015/16 National Contingency Plan and undertaking capacity strengthening before launching the 2016/2017.
With the recent declaration of a Red Alert, resources are being mobilised by both Government and partners to meet the needs of those affected by the severe drought. Coordination is being led by the Government through the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC).
Approximately 315,000 people have so far been assisted with food by Government and partners as at March 2011, and an emergency school feeding programme for about 100,000 students in Gaza and in Inhambane provinces is also being implemented.
In addition, $2,7 million have been raised for WASH interventions. Still, major sectoral funding gaps remain: food: $143 million; agriculture: $26,7 million; nutrition: $5,3 million; WASH: approximately $17 million; and resilience interventions: $14,9 million
The report says that Government declared a state of emergency on the 29 of June 2016, due to the impacts of the El Niño induced drought.
An estimated 729,000 of people are in need of assistance. Short term humanitarian needs revolve largely around the provision of water, which is a perennial issue in Namibia, exacerbated by the El Niño-induced drought.
Water is being provided to both humans and livestock in affected areas.
Food relief is targeting the very poor and poor rural households facing food deficits.
A livestock marketing incentive programme is targeting farmers to encourage them to destock to reduce pressure on pastures. Of the $56,6 million required or the response, $35,7 million is still needed.
The report says the Republic of South Africa is experienced one of the worst droughts ever recorded due to two consecutive below average rainfall seasons (since early 2015).
There is a growing water crisis, with an average dam level (as of 29 August 2016) of approximately 54 per cent –18 per cent less than the same time in 2015.
During August 2016, significant rainfall events were mainly limited to the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.
The expected commercial maize crop production for 2016 is estimated at 7,3 million tonnes, which represents a 26,7 per cent decrease from 10 million tonnes harvest during the previous season (2015), which was also a drought year.
The severe drought experienced across the country did not spare the drought tolerant sorghum crop. Sorghum production in 2016 is estimated at 82 thousand tonnes, representing a 32 decline from last year’s harvest of 120,5 thousand tons.
However, most of the winter crops are expected to perform better than last season The total maize imported by South Africa from 30 April to 2 September 2016 amounted to 772,8 thousand tons.
The maize is being imported from Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and the United States of America.
The number of people with inadequate or severely inadequate access to food is 14,3 million, and this includes 8 million people living in urban areas. Government has the capacity to assist those affected and a request for international support is not expected.
The total requirement to respond to the food needs of the affected is $47 million. The Government has already made $32,3 million available leaving a gap of $14,7 million.
According to the report a total of 8,750 tons of food has been provided to 158,000 people by the Swaziland National Disaster Management Agency (NMDA) and humanitarian partners in the affected areas.
Food and nutrition gardens have been established for 25,000 people and in 100 schools. The Ministry of Agriculture has provided 2,600 bales of hay and 300,000 litters of water to farmers in 11 constituencies.
Under the WASH Cluster, 26 boreholes have been constructed in affected communities and schools; and toilets have been constructed in 19 schools in Shiselweni.
All clusters have developed implementation and targeting plans at constituency level and each partner have been allocated a geographic area to avoid duplication.
A lack of funding for the drought response is the most significant limiting factor, affecting the capacity of Government and partners to meet the needs of the most affected.
As of 1 June 2016, the total revised requirements for the Swaziland National Emergency Response, Mitigation and Adaptation Plan (NERMAP) stands at$92 million, of which only $7 million has been realised.
The urgent needs remain the provision of food and cash assistance to 414,834 people, as well as livelihood support and access to water to affected households and 516 schools
The report found that in contrast to the southern part of the region, El Niño usually brings above average rainfall to Tanzania. The country received good rainfall over the past eight months, and flooding was reported, affecting infrastructure and agriculture and leading to displacement to camps.
The report says an assessment of the Zambia Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZVAC) carried out in 42 dry spell-affected southern districts, 975,738 people (162,623 households) require humanitarian assistance.
The Government through its Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) has been coordinating assessment actions by sectoral partners through the ZVAC to ascertain needs in the affected areas, and has identified sectoral response needs.
The DMMU is providing food aid to affected communities through its strategic grain reserves. The overall response requires $76 million, with a funding gap of $33 million.
Of the total ask of $1,5 billion in the Government’s drought appeal, $1 billion has been identified for immediate humanitarian assistance.
This includes agriculture inputs to enable affected households to be able to prepare for the coming agricultural season and school feeding programmes in affected districts to minimise the impact of the drought on the nutrition of learners.
Government has established a Cabinet Committee on Emergency Response to the El Niño-induced Drought Disaster, chaired by a Vice President.
In order to provide strategic guidance for partners, a Humanitarian Country Team was established in 2015 and an inter-sectoral coordination group established in April 2016 to coordinate between sectors and to provide a platform for inter-sectoral discussion. Sectoral meetings are ongoing among the five sectors and an early recovery sectoral working group has been established.