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SADC: COVID-19, dry spells and economic decline drive 45 million people into high levels of acute food insecurity in Southern Africa

Around 45 million people in ten countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region are facing high levels of acute food insecurity. Across the region, the COVID-19 pandemic with related mitigating measures is a predominant driver of high acute food insecurity in both urban and rural areas, along with high prices for food commodities and declining economies characterised by increasing unemployment and low income.

As of March 16, Integrated Food Insecurity Phase Classification (IPC) analyses show that, 45 million people, out of 188 million analysed, are classified in IPC Phase 3 or above, meaning, people are marginally able to meet minimum  food needs but only by depleting essential livelihood assets or through crisis or emergency coping strategies. High acute malnutrition is also prevalent. Urgent action is needed to protect livelihoods, reduce food consumption gaps, and save lives and livelihoods. The countries analysed include, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

About 30 million people or 75% of the population in high acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) in the ten countries in the SADC region are in DRC (19.6 million people), where conflict, economic decline and the COVID-19 pandemic continue to drive this high acute food insecurity, and South Africa, hosting 11.8 million people in IPC Phase 3 or above, mainly due to COVID-19 related drivers including increasing unemployment and economic decline. These include 4.9 million people in DRC and 2.2 million people in South Africa that are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

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