Southern Africa Drought

About the Crisis


Southern Africa is experiencing one of its worst droughts in history. The combination of lower-than-average rainfall and a severe El Niño in 2015-2016 has caused tens of millions of people across the region to require emergency humanitarian assistance. USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) estimates that 18 million people will experience crisis levels of food insecurity by early 2017 as farmers are unable to harvest and food prices rise.

While local communities grapple with the burden of acute malnutrition, livestock deaths and the rise of waterborne illnesses, international humanitarian organizations are working to deliver emergency food and agricultural assistance, as well as nutrition, clean water, and health services. USAID is responding to people most in need across six countries: Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

Details About the Ongoing Response Efforts


USAID created the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) in 1988 one month after Hurricane Gilbert made landfall as a Category 5 storm that affected 10 countries. An outpouring of unsolicited donations took up space needed to stage and deliver life-saving relief supplies, and USAID and other responders spent valuable time managing unneeded clothing, expired medicine, and other non-critical items. USAID established the Center to educate the public about the advantages of giving monetary donations to relief organizations and the downside of donating unsolicited material goods USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) leads and coordinates the U.S. government’s humanitarian assistance efforts overseas, responding to an average of 65 disasters in more than 50 countries every year. Learn More About USAID/OFDA

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