The ongoing El Niño has resulted in a severe drought across Southern Africa. Rains, which typically begin in October/November, have been 10 to more than 50 days late and significantly below average (Figure 1). This poor rainfall, in combination with above-average temperatures, has limited crop development, pasture regrowth, and water availability. If rainfall remains below average, as forecasts suggest, the current growing season is likely to be one of the driest on record. Already, regional food supplies are limited, staple
food prices are higher than average, and acute food insecurity is more prevalent than usual due to poor crop harvests in early 2015. An estimated 2.5 million people are classified as in Crisis (IPC Phase3) for the January to March 2016 lean season in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Lesotho. If the abnormally hot and dry conditions persist, a regional food security crisis, including a substantial increase in the size of the acutely food insecure population, is considered likely in the latter half of 2016 and early 2017.