AMH is an independent media house free from political ties or outside influence. We have four newspapers: The Zimbabwe Independent, a business weekly published every Friday, The Standard, a weekly published every Sunday, and Southern and NewsDay, our daily newspapers. Each has an online edition.

Southern Africa faces worst drought in years

Local News
In southern Africa, current weather patterns related to El Niño have manifested in below-normal rainfall and prolonged dry spells resulting in crops wilting.

THE World Food Programme (WFP) has raised concern about the potential impact of this year’s predicted the El Niño-induced poor yields.

In southern Africa, current weather patterns related to El Niño have manifested in below-normal rainfall and prolonged dry spells resulting in crops wilting.

The rainy season has been characterised by erratic precipitation and an extended dry period that began in late January and continues to the present day.

In a report, WFP said Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Angola and South Africa, the leading maize producer in the region, will see reduced crop yields compared to previous years.

“The extremely dry conditions are likely to have a significant, negative impact on maize production in Zambia, Zimbabwe, southern Malawi and central Mozambique,” the report read.

“Botswana, Namibia and southeast Angola are also likely to be affected.

“While South Africa, the region’s leading maize producer, has been spared the most extreme conditions, it is not likely to reach production levels of recent years.”

Humanitarian agencies have already warned that at least 4,4 million Zimbabweans, including urbanites, are food insecure.

Government on Wednesday said it would commence a food aid distribution programme across the country.

The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe told Parliament early this week that it targeted to import one million tonnes of grain to boost available stocks.

The Meteorological Services Department on Wednesday said the rainy season was not yet over with rains expected in March, a little too late.

“In areas affected by the current February dry spell, above average vegetation cover is still evident, but degradation of vegetation has begun to manifest in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and is expected to deteriorate further in the coming period due to ongoing dry conditions,” WFP said.

“The satellite vegetation signal once boosted by early season rainfall takes time to respond to a sudden and sharp reversal in rainfall conditions.”

Parts of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Zambia have experienced long dry spells of more than 26 days.

“Across southern Africa, where most crops are in the vegetative and reproductive stage, there are mixed crop conditions.

“In certain areas, the shortening of the agricultural season due to dry spells and elevated temperatures leading to increased evaporation is likely to have a negative impact on the harvest,” WFP said.

“Dry conditions have been reported to be affecting crop conditions in large parts of Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and parts of Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Madagascar.

“In Zimbabwe, concerns of the effects of below average rainfall on crop conditions remain in most areas. The yearly crop and livestock assessments will be conducted in April and May.”

Related Topics