• NGOs Moves Out, Sanitation Disaster Looms

    Disaster is looming for about 2 000 families that were displaced by floods in Tokwe-Murkosi area in Masvingo province after some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) recently moved out.
    Masvingo provincial administrator, Felix Chikovo, told the Provincial Development Council that if the situation is not urgently addressed they could face a sanitation disaster.
    Chikovo says people who will suffer most are those that are refusing to leave the temporary camp into the one hectare plots pegged by the Mwenezi district administration, adding that most of these NGOs were dealing with sanitation issues at the temporary camp.
    To read the article titled, “Sanitation disaster looms at Chingwizi as NGOs move out,” click here.

    All Africa
  • Floods Compromise Service Delivery

    Communities in Malawi risk losing their only health facility to floods, if nothing is done to protect it from flood water from the Nyankotola River.

    Nsanje District Health Officer, Dr Medson Matchaya admitted that the problem has caused strain as during rainy seasons floods hit the health facility which affects the delivery of healthcare.

    Matchaya states that, "The situation is worrisome as operations at the facility are affected during rainy season as the floods do not only hit the health centre but also staff houses. Most of the medics that are deployed to the facility leave for other places for safety of their lives and property therefore compromising the delivery of quality healthcare."

    To read the article titled, “Water flooding compromising health services delivery at Nsanje, Mbenje Health Centre,” click here.

    All Africa
  • Natural Disasters Threaten Malawi’s Food Security

    Malawi's reputation for improving food production could be in peril, according to Lameck Masina’s analysis published on the All Africa website

    Masina states that after years developing its capacity to feed itself, Malawi has recently suffered a series of devastating natural setbacks with thousands currently facing food shortages.

    He says besides last year's erratic rains and drought which reduced the maize harvest (the country's staple) by seven percent, the Southern African country has recently been hit by severe floods, displacing an estimated 10 000 households across ten districts.

    To read the article titled, “Washed away - Food security hit by natural disasters,” click here.

    All Africa
  • Mozambique Residents Evacuated After Floods

    The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Mozambique has collaborated with the government to assist in the evacuation of residents affected by the heavy rains.

    Mozambican authorities say they have evacuated about 3 000 families affected by floods to higher ground, since yesterday.

    UNDP's humanitarian coordinating officer in Mozambique, Casimiro Sande, says the flooding is caused by the high rain fall recorded in South Africa and other countries as Mozambique is in a downstream.

    At least 40 people have been killed since the start of the rains.

    To read the article titled, “UN assists Mozambique with evacuations after floods,” click here.

    SABC News
  • NGO, Govt, Set Up Base for Flood Victims

    Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontierès (MSF), the South African Police Services and the Musina Local Municipality have set up a base at Dongola, Limpopo.

    The base aimed at providing shelter to more than 150 flood victims, some of which have been stranded on rooftops in the greater Mapungubwe area and rescued by military helicopter.

    Meanwhile, Coal of Africa Limited, a mining company operating in the area, has forced to halt its operations.

    To read the article titled, “Limpopo floods halt coal mine operations,” click here.

  • SADC Countries Urged to Rethink Dam Projects

    A new study conducted by for the NGO, International Rivers, has found that the massive hydropower dams built on the Zambezi River, the largest river system in Southern Africa, not only supply power to major economies in the region but also help mitigate annual floods.

    The organisation warns however, that as electricity demands grow and rising global temperatures affect rainfall patterns, the dams will be unable to meet energy needs or control floods.

    The study recommends that the region - and the rest of Africa as well - must reconsider the construction of massive hydropower dams and rethink their use as a flood management tool, especially as floods are expected to worsen with climate change.

    To read the article titled, “New urgency to rethink dam projects,” click here.

    All Africa
  • Some Relief for Limpopo Flood Victims

    More than 10 families, whose homes have been destroyed by floods, are receiving aid and housing from policewomen and the Gift of the Givers.

    According to Limpopo police, the families lost everything when their houses were washed away two months ago.

    Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, says that the families received blankets, clothes and food parcels from the South African Police Service Women's Network.

    Meanwhile, the Gift of the Givers was building two-roomed ‘Zozo’ huts for each family and these are expected to be completed on 16 May 2012.

    To read the article titled, “Some relief for flood victims,” click here.

    Sowetan Live
  • Maruleng Hit Hard by Floods

    The Department of Human Settlements in Limpopo says that a total of 220 families have been affected by this week's floods in Maruleng.

    The department spokesperson, Tseng Diale, says that according to a preliminary assessment, 101 families are in need of immediate shelter and tents are being provided for them.

    Meanwhile, spokesperson for the Limpopo Department of Health, Kenny Mathivha, says the Mopani district - encompassing Baphalaborwa, Giyani, Letaba, Maruleng, and Tzaneen municipalities - was hardest hit by the flood.

    To read the article titled, “Limpopo families hit by floods,” click here.

    The Citizen
  • SA Further Hit By Unseasonal Rains: Will This Further Affect Food Prices?

    After experiencing terrible floods in January 2011, some parts of South Africa were further hit by unseasonal heavy rains in the second week of June 2011. The areas that were worst hit included the Western Cape and the Free State. This article seeks to explore the impact of these floods on food price inflation in South Africa.

    Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) stipulated that the prices of vegetables inflated by 2.1 percent during the period April 2010 to April 2011. Against this background, consumers must anticipate a sudden price shock on horticultural commodities like vegetables whose damage by floods would directly and immediately affect the volume of supply on the market. There is no doubt that the recent floods had a significant impact on the vegetable growing communities around the Free State and the Western Cape and other provinces that received above normal rainfall.

    The negative impact would emanate from infrastructure damage, disruption in the supply chain of agricultural products with respect to logistics and damage to the crops. One would predict a short term strain on the Price index of food, mainly horticultural products, for the months of June, July and maybe down to August. There should be a slight rise in wholesale price figures for these, which will also be anticipated to be reflected on the shelves at the retail level in a couple of months to come. The prices should however normalise to pre-flood levels within two to four months if production is resuscitated. This would happen if an increasing number of growers manage to shake off the dust and start to at least get back to normal operational capacity.

    Statistics released by Stats SA further reveal that the April 2011 Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed that food and non alcoholic beverages inflation increased by 4.8 percent between April 2010 and April 2011. The previous Food Price Monitor of February 2011 reported that the food and non alcoholic beverages index increased by 3.1 percent in January 2011 compared to January 2010. The year on year food and non alcoholic beverages inflation increased to reach 3.6 percent in February 2011, five percent in March 2011 before slightly dropping to 4.8 percent in April 2011. In the face of the destruction of grain crops, mainly maize in the January and the recent floods in Bloemfontein, it is interesting to ironically note that though the destruction of grain by both the January and June floods is a cause for concern, the Stats SA reports that the prices of staple maize related food products deflated by 2.2 percent from April 2010 to April 2011. 

    Urban consumers paid 2.99 percent more for a super maize meal (5kg) and 7.49 percent less for special maize meal (5kg) in April 2011 than during April 2010 at the retail level. The annual increase of 4.8 percent in the food and non-alcoholic beverages index was largely driven by the annual increases in oils and fats (22.7 percent), meat (8.3 percent) and sugar (6.3 percent) and not necessarily maize. Even though the maize production levels for the 2011/2012 season will fall compared to the past three seasons as a result of the floods, the hitting of the maize crop by floods would not directly affect maize meal prices in South Africa as the country has large grain reserves with over 4 million metric tones reported to be available for export.

    Thus, even though weather events have been playing havoc on world commodity markets since 2010, the only thing that could contribute to the increase in local maize related products in South Africa by more than in the recent past would not necessarily be the floods but international prices. Emanating from the deregulation of South Africa’s agricultural market in 1996, domestic prices of maize and other agricultural produce now tend to fluctuate within a range dictated by world prices and exchange rates. Local maize producers are finding support in much higher export levels where they can secure better export agreements on the back of a local maize price that has been, and still is trading well below export parity levels. This ultimately would gradually push local prices in the long term to try and match the international prices. For instance the May 2011 Quarterly Food Price Monitor report released by the National Agricultural Marketing Council highlights that the international price of yellow maize (US No.2, Yellow, U.S. Gulf) increased by 101.76 percent from April 2010 to April 2011.

    During the same period, the price of domestic yellow maize increased by 42.71 and the domestic white maize price increased by 47.30 percent compared to April 2010. This depicts the pressure that international prices can have on domestic prices. The world grain market prices are still high due to high demand for bio-fuels and stock-feeds which will support high grain prices. Anticipated increases in local energy prices could also contribute to food price inflation in the coming months.

    On a lighter note, a number of dams were filled to capacity as a result of the floods which one may argue to be a blessing in disguise as this is good news for irrigation agriculture. The Bloemhof dam was reported to be 101 percent full while South Africa’s largest storage dam, the Gariep in the Orange River, was 102 percent full. The Groendal dam near Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape was reported to be 118.8 percent full. This at least ensures good water reserves for the country.

    - Takura Chamuka (Msc Econ, Bsc Econ) is a human and economic development consultant based in Johannesburg. This article may not be published or reproduced without the consent of the author.


    1. Food Price Monitor: May 2011. National Agricultural Marketing Council. Pretoria.
    2. www.statssa.gov.za
    3. www.worldgrain.com/News/News%20Home/World%20Grain%20News/2011/6/FAO%20World%20food%20prices%20set%20to%20remain%20
    Takura Chamuka
  • Possible Short to Long-Term Impacts of the January 2011 Floods to South African and Some of Her SADC Trading Partners

    The majority of agricultural systems in South Africa and Africa at large are rain fed. Rainfall is a natural phenomenon whose occurrence can be erratic resulting in weather shocks such as droughts and floods which can have devastating impacts on the socio-economic livelihoods of the people. Floods and droughts trigger a multiplicity of negative impacts to economies relying on rain-fed agriculture.

    With eight out of nine South African provinces having been hit by floods in January 2011, this article explores the possible short to long-term impacts of floods to the economy of South Africa and partly to its Southern African Development Community (SADC) trading partners in agricultural produce. The floods, which were a result of constant heavy rains in a country which has become the sole breadbasket of Southern Africa with Zimbabwe, a former breadbasket still reeling in its political and economic challenges, claimed over a 100 lives; left 33 district municipalities declared disaster areas; thousands of houses damaged and farmers agonising from crop damage.

    South Africa has a dual agricultural economy comprising a well-developed commer¬cial sector and a predominantly subsistence-oriented sector in the rural areas. Primary agriculture contributes about three percent to the gross domes¬tic product (GDP) of South Africa whose nominal value was estimated at R667 billion for the third quarter of 20101. In addition, primary agriculture caters for about eight percent of formal employment in South Africa. However, with strong sector linkages into the economy, the agro-industrial sector comprises about seven percent of GDP. The total contribution of agriculture to the South African economy increased from R27 billion in 2001 to R36 billion in 2007 and to R68 billion in 2008. Producer prices of agricultural products increases have been 17.9 percent for 2005-2006, 24.6 percent for 2006-2007 and 14.3 percent from 2007-2008. In 2008, the producer prices of field crops rose by 22.4 percent, against an increase of 44 percent the previous year. Producer prices of horticultural products increased by 20.6 percent in 2007 compared to 2006, 5.8 percent in 2008 compared to 2007 and seven percent in 2009 compared to 20082.

    Maize is the largest produced field crop in South Africa and the most important source of carbohydrates in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at large, for animal and human consumption. South Africa is the current main maize producer in the SADC region, with an average production of over 12 million tones a year for the past two years and over 10 million tones in the past decade.

    Against such a background, one feels compelled to speculate the effects of weather shocks in form of floods to such an economy in terms of employment, income, food security and food prices. The most immediate impact of floods is the undermining of crop production and therefore yields on the farms, both commercial and subsistence. If farm yields are affected, it means the national harvest is affected which reduces household and national food availability and ultimately agricultural income derived from crop sales. Thus poor harvests will seriously affect food security and lifestyles of the nation but particularly of those directly relying on agriculture for their income or direct food supplies.

    With crops destroyed by floods and lack of monetary compensation from the South African government to revive agricultural activity, it is highly likely that there will be a further surge in total farming debt which was estimated to have increased from over R46 million in 2009 to over R54 million in 20103 as farmers borrow to revive their crop. In addition, one gets the feeling that part of the eight percent population formally employed in the agro-industry will be laid off. Thus the supply of labour in the agricultural market will rise acutely against an acute drop in the demand for agricultural labour services. Statistics released in the third Quarterly Labour Force Survey by Statistics South Africa reveal that 25 percent of the economically active population in South Africa is unemployed4 . The retrenched farm laborers comprising migrants from SADC countries like Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi will have to find other options to bring food on the table thereby adding to the cumulative figure of the unemployed in the respective countries.

    No doubt the loss of income by farmers whose crop was destroyed and by laid off farm workers will affect aggregate demand through decreased consumer expenditure on goods and services and reduced exports of agricultural goods due to low agricultural output. Important export destinations for South Africa’s agricultural produce in the SADC region are Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique with the last two having been the biggest regional trading partners in the 2009/2010 season. With over 10 million tons being required for the local market, it is most likely that South Africa, the breadbasket of the SADC region, will export less in the 2010/2011 season to cater for local food demands thereby posing possibilities of a worsening food insecurity situation in the SADC region. The floods are most likely to hamper the objectives of the Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Programme which aims to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity by 2015 in South Africa and the country will most likely continue to be a net importer of food.

    Since the deregulation of the South African agricultural market in 1996, domestic prices of maize and other agricultural produce fluctuate within a range dictated by world prices, exchange rates and local production which varies substantially with erratic weather conditions such as the floods the country recently experienced. In the face of such shocks, deficits in local produce are anticipated thereby causing the local price of the agricultural produce to rise towards import parity5. South Africa’s official average annual inflation rate was 4.3 percent for the year 2010 with the annual rate for food and non-alcoholic beverages increasing to 1.5 percent in December 2010 from 1.3 percent in November 20106.

    According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the general global food price index rose to 215 points in December 2010, with food commodity price indices highest for sugar, oils and fats. The Cereal Price Index rose to 238 points, up 6 percent from November and as much as 39 percent from December 20097 . With the prices of most of South Africa’s food products being derived from international prices and with possible food deficits owing to the recent floods, it is reasonable to assume that South Africa and its trading partners in the SADC region must brace up for an increase in food price inflation this year. Many will pray that the Rand keeps strong as it was in 2010 to shield South Africans from any possible sharp rises in global food prices.

    From the discussion, it is notable that the shock from the floods that hit South Africa in January 2011 could culminate in tremors that adversely affect not only the livelihoods of those directly earning a living from agriculture but a chain of other economic activities and indicators. The tremors are likely to cross the borders of South Africa to her regional trading partners in SADC.

    One may however take solace in the fact that South Africa’s economy is highly diversified and has other diverse sources of income other than agriculture relative to other economies in Africa. As a result, the general level of vulnerability of the country to weather shocks such as floods may be minimal.

    - Takura Chamuka (MSc Economics, BSc Economics, UZ) is a Cape Town based Human and Economic Development Consultant/Researcher (tchamuka@yahoo.com). This article may not be published or reproduced without the consent of the author.


    1. Gross Domestic Product, 3rd Quarter, Statistical Release P0441, Statistics South Africa, November 2010;

    2. Statistics in this paragraph were extracted from  Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa, Pocket Guide 2008/09 and Pocket Guide 2009/10;
    3. Trends in the Agricultural Sector 2010, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa;
    4. Quarterly Labour Force Survey, Statistical Release P0211, Statistics South Africa, 3rd Quarter,  October 2010;
    5. Import parity refers to the international price plus transport and other cost multiplied by the exchange rate, FEWS NET Market guidance, No 1, May 2008;
    6. Consumer Price Index, Statistical Release P0141, Statistics South Africa, December 2010;
    7. The Global Foundation Price Monitor, FAO, 14 January 2011.
    Takura Chamuka
Syndicate content