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  • Background Information

    The SADC region is experiencing a devastating drought episode associated with the 2015/2016 El Niño event which is negatively impacting on livelihoods and quality of lives. The drought has resulted in widespread crop failures and thousands of livestock deaths. It is estimated that around 40 million people across Southern Africa are affected, of whom 23 million require immediate emergency assistance. This has prompted the SADC Council of Ministers to mandate the Secretariat to coordinate a regional humanitarian response to the emergency.

    What is El Niño

    El Niño is a warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific that occurs, on average, every two to seven years. During an El Niño event, sea surface temperatures across the Pacific can warm by 1-3°F or more for anything between a few months to a year or two. El Niño impacts weather systems around the globe so that some places receive more rain while others receive none at all, more extremes becoming the norm. (Definition from UNOCHA website)

    Information at a Glance

    Total Population

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    People in Need

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    Resources Required

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    Affected Countries

    The region experienced a delayed onset of the 2015/2016 rainfall season, followed by erratic rains. Analysis of rainfall performance shows that the October to December 2015 period, which represents the first half of the cropping season, was the driest in more than 35 years in several southern parts of the region. During the same period, higher than average temperatures were consistently experienced across the region.

    The El Niño induced dry conditions mostly affected Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    Call for Support and Action

    The international community is requested to provide assistance to affected SADC Member States with gaps in their humanitarian response. These are Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A funding gap of US$ 2.4 billion was identified at regional level at the time of making this appeal for humanitarian assistance. The appeal is in support of on-going planned effort by the Member States and covers all relevant sectors in an effort to enable a holistic approach to the drought, addressing immediate multi-sectoral humanitarian needs as well as referencing longer term developmental and resilience-building requirements.


    • United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA)
      OCHA is the part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. OCHA also ensures there is a framework within which each actor can contribute to the overall response effort.
    • United Nations World Food Programme
      The World Food Programme is the food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world's largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.
    • United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
      Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO's efforts – to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.
    • United Nations Children’s Fund
      UNICEF is a leading humanitarian and development agency working globally for the rights of every child. As outlined in its Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF is dedicated to upholding the rights of children affected by humanitarian crisis.
    • World Health Organization
      WHO goal is to build a better, healthier future for people all over the world. Working through offices in more than 150 countries, WHO staff work side by side with governments and other partners to ensure the highest attainable level of health for all people.

    Contact Us

    Physical Address: University of Agriculture, Sebele, Gaborone, Botswana
    Postal Address: El Niño Response Centre, Private Bag 0095, Gaborone, Botswana
    Email Address: elninoresponseteam@sadc.int
    Phone: (+267) 395 1863
    Fax: (+267) 397 2848

    Useful Links

    Early Warning Websites

    Disaster / Emergency Alerts

    Rainfall Forecasts and Rainfall Performance Monitoring websites

    Related Documents