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The South African drought….what’s it all about?

South Africa is facing one of the worst droughts in 100 years, seconded only by a period of very low rainfall in the 1930s. Though the drought conditions have been partially caused by the El Nino phenomenon which has brought turbulent weather conditions across the globe, some also put South Africa's problems down to wider global warming trends.

A drought of this length and magnitude has any a number of multiplier effects on the South African economy. 2.7 million households have been left without a secure food supply, with wilted crops affecting the livelihoods of both emerging and established farmers. The South African government has faced criticism for failing to declare the drought a national emergency; they have resisted because not all the provinces of South Africa have been affected to the same extent.​

The uphill battle facing the South African economy is clear from a quick look at the statistics: 

  • South Africa needs to import five to six million tonnes of maize for 2016, at a cost of 14 billion rand.
  • Farmers are facing losses of up to 10 billion rand.
  • One in five South African households are already food insecure and this can only get worse if the drought progresses.
  • The South African agricultural community, which employs as many as 500,000 people, faces the prospect of major job losses.