The 2023/24 El Niño season has brought exceptionally dry conditions to the Southern Africa region, including one of the driest Februarys in over four decades, resulting in widespread crop failure. These conditions have also caused water shortages, reduced crop yields, and consequently, food shortages, displacement, and the spread of diseases. These challenges are expected to worsen food insecurity and malnutrition, disrupt education and healthcare services, and exacerbate economic difficulties in the area. The most affected regions due to rainfall deficits from January to March include Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, central Mozambique, south-eastern Angola, and northeastern Botswana. Lesotho, eSwatini, and southern Madagascar will also face severe impacts.

These key messages were formulated by a task force on El Niño under the Regional Inter Agency Standing Committee (RIASCO). RIASCO is a high-level platform aimed at identifying, addressing, and advocating for crucial operational and strategic issues vital for effective humanitarian assistance delivery in Southern Africa. A more detailed technical version of the key messages can be found in the Annex section.

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