Chronology of Events:
1991/92 Southern African Drought
All of 1991
- According to a November 1991 story in The Independent,
predicts the 1991 ENSO event (Pearce, 1991).
- Until November, the
Climate Analysis Center, in its "ENSO Advisories," reported that atmospheric and oceanic indices indicated the development of a warm episode BUT that enhanced convection (which causes the anomalous global circulation and precipitation patterns associated with ENSO) was not present (CAC, January-October 1991).
- In the Climate Diagnostics Bulletin put out by the U.S. Climate Analysis Center, it is reported that
Zebiak's model predicts a warm episode by the end of 1991 1 (CAC, January, 1991).
- SADC REWS predicts a 3 million tonne region-wide grain shortfall due to a poor harvest (Rook, 1994).
- Climate Diagnostics Bulletin
reports both major models indicate a trend towards a warm episode in late 1991 (Climate Diagnostics Bulletin, April, 1991; Third Annual Climate Assessment, 1991).
- Zimbabwe allegedly sells off a substantial portion of its grain surplus at the urging of the IMF/World Bank as part of its structural adjustment program2("Southern African Drought: Implications for U.S. Policy Initiatives," 1992).
- Mt. Pinatubo erupts in the Philippines making measurement of global mean temperature more difficult (Third Annual Climate Assessment, 1991).
- In its "Seasonal Climate Outlook," the
Australian Bureau of Meteorology reports that there are signs an ENSO episode is beginning to develop and that parts of Australia should expect below average rainfall in the next few months (BOM, June, 1991).
- The Montreal Gazette reports on July 6 that the U.S. National Weather Service (Chet Ropelewski) was predicting an ENSO event (Kirkman, 1991).
- SADC annual summit meeting;
FSTAU announces 1991 harvest had been thin and that increased imports would be needed (MSI, 1994; SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993; SADC/FSTAU, 1993).
- A Reuters reporter in Sydney quotes Roger Stone as saying an ENSO is already underway and that there is a 90% chance that it will continue to deepen and lead to severe drought (da Silva, 1991).
- According to Climate Analysis Center's retrospective assessment of 1991 climate, "the typical precipitation and temperature pattern associated with ENSO episodes had established themselves in most locations by the end of August" (Third Annual Climate Assessment, 1991).
- "National, regional and international agencies working closely together provided the first advance warning in September 1991, that
'El Niño' conditions were indicating a possible problem" (SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993; SADC/FSTAU, 1993).
- The Orlando Sentinel Tribune reports the Climate Analysis Center (Vern Kousky) as saying an ENSO event is underway ("El Niño Weather Phenomenon Returns," 1991).
- Beginning of growing season in most SADC countries
- FAO/GIEWS warned that food supplies were low in the region following a poor harvest in 1991 (UN FAO, October 1991).
- Zimbabwe NEWU announces pending drought and that food stocks were dangerously low (MSI, 1994).
- Climate Analysis Center, in its "ENSO Advisory," reports that circulation and precipitation anomalies generally associated with an ENSO event had been observed in Australia and the South Pacific (CAC, November, 1991).
- SADC REWU predicts poor crop for 1992 harvest (MSI, 1994; Rook, 1994; SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993; Meldrum, 1993).
- Widespread reports that regional grain harvests were likely to be affected by drought and that large quantities of food imports would be necessary (SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993; SADC/FSTAU, 1993).
South Africa and Swaziland, rains had stopped (MSI, 1994).
- "National meteorological services and early warning units were reporting below normal precipitation" (SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993; SADC/FSTAU, 1993).
- Climate Analysis Center reports in its "ENSO Advisory" that observed anomalies were indicative of the mature phase of a warm episode and notes the pattern is similar to the 1986-87 episode (CAC, December, 1991).
- In Malawi and Namibia, first indications of failing rains (MSI, 1994).
- Gov't of Swaziland establishes Disaster Drought Committee within the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MSI, 1994).
- At the Annual SADC Consultative Conference in Maputo, SADC ministers directed the SADC Food Security Sector Coordinator to "consult closely and urgently with member States, with a view to assessing the extent of food shortages; evolving a common strategy to address the problem; and if necessary, convening a donor's conference" (Rook, 1994; SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993).
- Drought Monitoring Centre reports that for the period November 1991-January 1992, all of Botswana, most of Zimbabwe, southern, central and parts of northern Mozambique, southern and parts of eastern Malawi, northern and parts of wester Zambia, central, southern, and parts of northern Tanzania, Swaziland and Lesotho received less than 75% of average rainfall (DMC, January, 1992).
- Climate Analysis Center reports in its "ENSO Advisory" that the development of enhanced convection observed in the previous two months signified the onset of the mature phase of an ENSO event and that the features of this event now appeared to be stronger than the 1986-87 event (CAC, January, 1992).
- Early warnings of impending drought were "substantiated" (SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993; SADC/FSTAU, 1993).
- Following near normal rainfall in November and December, the southern half of Zambia received very light rain in January. This region usually produces 80-90% of the country's marketed maize ("The 1992 Zambian Drought: Impacts, Responses and Costs," 1992).
- Early Warning Unit in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Water Development in Zimbabwe conducted a harvest assessment (Frankenberger, 1993).
- FAO GIEWS reports that as of early January, crop conditions were "good to excellent" in Angola, Malawi, Namibia, and Zambia and "about average" everywhere else (UN FAO, alert #225, 1992; UN FAO, Dec 1991/Jan 1992).
- SADC REWS
reports that severe dry conditions have affected Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, southern Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Also reports that "moderate to substantial maize production increases are anticipated in Angola, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and northern Mozambique" (SADCC/REWS, 31 December 1991).
- Governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia
secure commercial maize shipments, some of which will come from South Africa as well as the U.S. and Argentina. In Zambia, these imports were designed to full the shortfall from last year's poor harvest (Rook, 1994; SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993; "The 1992 Zambian Drought: Impacts, Responses, and Costs," 1992).
- SADC REWS and NEWS
undertook rapid assessments of food availability and needs for the coming year (Rook, 1994).
- USAID, via its Famine Early Warning System (FEWS), predicted famine in several SADC countries prompting the U.S. to mobilize food shipments (Barber, 1994; Congressional testimony, May, 1992).
- Climate Analysis Center reports in its "ENSO Advisory" that the evolution of the 1991-92 event now appeared similar to the devastating 1982-83 event (CAC, February, 1992).
- Government of Zimbabwe appeals for emergency maize shipments (MSI, 1994).
- Government of Zambia declares a national disaster ("The 1992 Zambian Drought: Impacts, Responses, and Costs," 1992).
- U.S. ambassadors to Zimbabwe and South Africa
declare disaster (MSI, 1994).
- FAO/GIEWS alert international community on severity of drought (UN FAO, special alert #225, 1992).
- FEWS released its first report on the drought situation (AID testimony at Congressional hearings on May 6, 1992).
- Regional grain stocks totalled 826,000 metric tons or about 3 weeks of normal consumption (SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993; SADC/FSTAU, 1993).
- SADC REWS issues detailed report on the size of upcoming maize harvest and anticipated import needs. Estimated that upcoming harvest would be 1/2 of normal and that 7 million tons of cereal would need to be imported (Rook, 1994; SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993; SADC/FSTAU, 1993; SADCC/REWS, 9 March 1992).
- Government of Malawi declares drought emergency (MSI, 1994).
- USAID calls a meeting of donors in Brussels to discuss a coordinated response to the drought (MSI, 1994; Congressional Testimony, May, 1992).
- USAID-Zimbabwe authorizes funds to help supply seeds to farmers in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, and Malawi for the next season (MSI, 1994).
- Government of Zimbabwe declares national disaster and establishes a drought relief task force (MSI, 1994; UN FAO, Office of Special Relief Operations, 1992; Frankenberger, 1993).
- Government of Botswana issues a Drought Declaration that identifies priorities for drought relief (UN FAO, Office of Special Relief Operations, 1992).
- FAO/WFP send mission to 10 countries and confirm the severity of the drought (MSI, 1994; Rook, 1994; Congressional Testimony May, 1992; Meldrum, 1993).
- WFP conducts a rapid assessment of the regional transport system to determine the system's ability to handle increased imports (SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993; SADC/FSTAU, 1993).
- USAID/OFDA sends mission to region and begins to mobilize food aid (MSI, 1994; USAID, Statement before the House Subcommittee on Africa, 1992; Congressional Testimony, May, 1992).
- UN begins relief operations (UNDHA) (MSI, 1994).
- Grain Operations Control Center established in Johannesburg (MSI, 1994; SADC/FSTAU, 1993).
- On April 16, SADC Ministers of Agriculture and Transport meet in Lusaka to discuss regional arrangements for drought relief and establish a Regional Task Force. Also, the six regional transport corridors were established. Per SADC/WFP and FSTAU assessments, this is when the Logistics Advisory Centre was formed (Rook, 1994; SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993; MSI, 1994; SADC/FSTAU, 1993; DESA, May 1992).
- SADC begins discussions with UNDHA
re: the worldwide issuance of a drought appeal (Rook, 1994; SADC/FSTAU, 1993).
- By this time, SADC states had arranged or were in the process of arranging for the commercial import of 1.9 million mt of cereals (SADC/FSTAU, 1993).
- Government of Zimbabwe establishes the Inter-Ministerial Drought Task Force Secretariat (SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993).
- World Bank and IMF announce at spring meeting that they are considering forms of aid to assist the drought-stricken SADC countries. Announced they were undertaking an assessment of the crisis ("World Bank, IMF gear up to aid drought-hit Africa," 1992).
- Per congressional testimony, USAID's first food shipments (approx. 41,000 metric tons) arrive at several Southern African ports (testimony, May, 1992).
- Drought Emergency in Southern Africa (DESA) appeal issued on May 26. Requested 1.6 million metric tons of targeted food aid, 2.5 million metric tons of program food aid and US$173 million in non-food assistance (Rook, 1994; SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993; UN FAO, Office for Special Relief Operations, 1992; DESA, May 1992).
- First USAID maize shipment arrives in Durbin, consigned for Malawi. (MSI, 1994; SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993).
- Government of Namibia establishes National Drought Relief Program and National Drought Task Force (MSI, 1994).
- Government of Swaziland issues national declaration of drought and establishes National Disaster Task Force in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MSI, 1994).
- Lesotho Ministry of Finance asks African Development Bank for help in dealing with drought (MSI, 1994).
- Lesotho Council of NGOs assigned to coordinate NGO response to the drought (MSI, 1994).
- Government of Lesotho announces state of emergency and requests seed from FAO (MSI, 1994; UN FAO, Office of Special Relief Operations, 1992).
- U.S. ambassador to Lesotho declares a disaster (MSI, 1994).
- June 1-2, donor pledging conference held in Geneva. Over US$500 million pledged (MSI, 1994; Rook, 1994; SADC/WFP Logistics Advisory Centre, 1993; SADC/FSTAU, 1993; Sayagues, 1993; "500 million pledged for southern Africa drought," 1992).
- Joint approval by FAO and WFP of initial allocation from WFP's International Emergency Food Reserve (MSI, 1994).
- First USAID food shipments reach Malawi (MSI, 1994).
- FAO responds to request from SADC Food Security Sector Coordinator for assistance in formulating updated requirements for the DESA appeal (UN FAO, Office for Special Relief Operations, 1992).
- Government of Zimbabwe issues a "letter of emergency drought policy" on how to address the drought (Frankenberger, 1993).
- Malawi makes first orders of commercial maize (MSI, 1994).
- Malawi Red Cross is first NGO in that country to help with food distribution (MSI, 1994).
- Per WFP, pledges received for 77% of targeted food aid and 35% of program food aid (MSI, 1994).
- IMF and World Bank relax structural adjustment obligations for Zimbabwe (MSI, 1994).
- First food aid distributed in Namibia (MSI, 1994).
- Government of Lesotho promises to establish a budget for the Drought Relief Implementation Group (but doesn't act) (MSI, 1994).
- Government of Lesotho begins registering individuals for food aid (MSI, 1994).
- Government of Lesotho convenes a workshop attended by all major donors, NGOs, and government ministries involved in drought relief (UN FAO, Office of Special Relief Operations, 1992).
- Government of Zimbabwe offers incentives to maize farmers for 1992/1993 season (MSI, 1994).
- Lesotho Ministry of Finance asks World Bank for help in dealing with Drought Emergency (MSI, 1994).
- Lesotho's Drought Relief Implementation Group becomes operational (MSI, 1994).
- Zimbabwe receives a World Bank credit to purchase maize (MSI, 1994).
- Government of Swaziland asks for assistance in supplying inputs for farmers in the upcoming season (MSI, 1994).
- Government of Namibia signs agreement with the Council of Churches of Namibia to establish a Food Management and Logistics Unit (MSI, 1994).
- The bulk of food imports began arriving in the region (Meldrum, 1993).
1. It should be noted, however, that the bulletin also reported the other model on which the editors relied did not indicate any anomaly.
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2. Evidence gathered for the present study suggests the process of reducing Zimbabwe's maize stocks occurred over several years. For additional infromation, see Chapter 4.
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