FEWS Mozambique Food Security Update: 18 Mar 2002

Originally published

The present monthly bulletin is a result of FEWS NET effort in collaboration with its partners, which include the DAP, SIMA of the MADER, INAM, and WFP.


The effect of drought continues in southern zones and southwest zones of the central region of the country. According to a MADER national level report, 27,890 hectares of maize crops have been lost in Gaza with 20,950 affected households. However, a separate field level report concludes that 113,671 hectares have been lost and there may be as many as 116,197 affected households in Gaza. Further assessements are planned, including a FAO/WFP/FEWS NET mission in April once approval and dates have been agreed to with the government. With pockets of drought and crop damage also identified in the center of the country and Nampula, it is important that the impact on food availability and access be carefully assessed as early as possible.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADER) has launched its drought action plan, while planning close coordination with donors, government officials, the private sector, NGOs and others. The plan aims to provide inputs, including vegetable seeds, for 41,000 households severely affected by the drought, so that some second season crops may be produced, depending on river levels which are particularly low in Gaza.

Retail maize prices were unusually high during the June-February off-season. In most markets, with the exception of Maputo, they remained at an unprecedented high into March. The combined effects of adverse climate, and strong cross border demand from Zimbabwe and Malawi, appear to be major factors in the market price increases. While the impact on food access for people who rely on markets for maize will need to be addressed in the context of upcoming MADER led field assessments with FAO/WFP and FEWS NET, one positive is the increased income for farmers, particularly in the center of the country.


Data from the National Institute of Meteorology (INAM) indicate that cumulative precipitation in February 2002 continues to be below normal in various parts of the country (Map 1). The districts of Tete, Chimoio, Vilanculos, Inhambane, Maputo and Changalane were the most severely hit by drought in February. The lowest levels of precipitation were observed in the district of Vilanculos, with 9 mm rainfall in February, corresponding to a negative deviation of 93 percent.  

Pemba had rainfall 30 percent above normal while Lichinga, Nampula, Quelimane, and Beira had rains much above normal.

The satellite images from METEOSAT (Figure 1) show that the northern region had above-normal precipitation, while the southern region had below-normal precipitation. For the central region, the image indicates rainfall below normal for the whole region, but this does not reflect the above-normal precipitation observed in the coastal zones of Beira and Quelimane. It is clear that lower levels of precipitation were observed in the interior districts of  the central zone, Tete and Chimoio and poor rains in the southern and southwest of central regions caused crop losses and reduced yields as the dry period occurred during the critical maize tasseling period.

Conversely, the above-average rains in the northern region, Beira and Quelimane favored crop development since crops are meeting their water satisfaction requirement and the production prognosis remains good in these regions.



A Special Bulletin from the Drought Monitoring Center (DMC) in Harare, Zimbabwe, has warned that in the Southern Region of Africa El Niño Southern Oscillations (ENSO) may occur in the coming months or years. This phenomenon is in its initial stage and may affect the volumes and distribution of rainfall in the coming agricultural seasons.  It should be highlighted that the El Niño phenomenon is characterized by the warming of the Tropical Pacific Ocean surface waters, combined with the atmospheric features named "Southern Oscillation" effects that in the past have abnormally affected temperatures and precipitation in parts of the globe.  This will be closely monitored by FEWS NET in coming months.


On March 13, 2002, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADER) presented and discussed the Emergency Action Plan for the Reduction of Drought Impact 2002 on behalf of the Ministry. Senior officials of MADER from Agriculture, Rural Extension, Research, Livestock, as well as donors, NGOs, seed companies, and the private sector attended the meeting. The Ministry’s provisional assessment is that the present drought has severely affected 41,100 households and has destroyed approximately 56,150 hectares of different crops (Figure 2).  However, a further field assessment has indicated that there could be as many as 116,197 affected families and 113,671 hectares lost. The totals will be further assessed in the next few weeks, including a joint FAO/WFP/FEWS NET assessment, once government has agreed on the dates.


The southern and central provinces were the most severely touched by drought. Gaza Province had a larger number of affected households, up to 50 percent of the households affected (Figure 2).  Maputo and Inhambane follow with 6,800 and 7,050 affected households respectively.  Sofala had approximately 3,500 affected households, and Manica had 2,800 affected households. Out of a total of 114,000 households threatened by drought, approximately 73,000 households were only mildly affected this agricultural season.  These households probably will not experience seed shortages during the second season.  Therefore, the Emergency Action Plan aims at this time to assist 41,100 households as follows:
  • Purchase and distribution of botanical seeds (maize and beans) tuber seedlings (cassava, sweet potatoes) for the second season.
  • Raising the awareness of the populations on the need for the setting up of fairs for trade and exchange of seeds.
  • Creation of local food stocks and vaccination for livestock.
  • Dissemination of drought awareness and information in Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala and Manica Provinces.
  • Infrastructure improvements, including the rehabilitation of small dams and irrigation canals, some of which are already included in the Annual Plan of Activities and Budget (PAAOS) from MADER.

This government emergency drought action plan targets inputs and support for the second cropping season (April/May to July/August) in the lower land zones and avoid interventions, which might cause social distortions in the future.  It has been recommended that the present plan build on the lessons learned from the 2000 and 2001 floods and use the contingency plan of the 2001 and 2002 rainy season during the implemntation of drougtht mitigation activities.  A multisectoral group shall be set up and co-ordinated by the National Directorate of Agriculture (DINA) with the objective of implementing lessons learned and best practices in the Drought Action Plan 2002.
As a drought consequence: reduced river water availability

Since the end of January, a gradual reduction of river water levels has been noted, particularly in Southern Mozambique. The reports of the Regional Water Management-South (ARA-SUL) indicate that the rivers water levels have been reduced between 27 percent (Umbeluzi River) to 73 percent (Limpopo River in Chokwe) on 13 March 2002. This means that the second cropping season could be affected, since plant growth in this season (planted in April) depends more heavily on residual soil moisture, riverine plantings, and morning dew than new rainfall.


The World Food Program continues operating in 50 districts under the Food Emergency Programme  (EMOP) which will be ending on March 31 2002.  However, food assitance will continue through the Food for Development Fund (FDF) from March 2002 until 2006, and 25 percent of the resources could be available for emergencies as needed. Several donors, including Italy and WFP are planning further assistance once the assessments are completed.

At this moment, about 360,000 beneficiaries are receiving food assistance in several forms. EMOP is assisting 190,000 people and Food for Development Fund covers the needs of about 170,000 people through food for work. 


The marketing year in Mozambique normally goes from April, when the harvests begin to March of the following year. In normal years, maize prices begin to decline in March as the harvest approaches, following a period of months (June-February) when consumer prices are generally rising.

However, in the 2001/2002 agricultural year, the price increases observed in several markets during the June-February period the market prices were unusually high and continued to rise even into March. In Chimoio, Nampula and Maputo, simaliar unusual price increases, as much as double and triple the rates of increase were observed compared to years in 99/00 and 01/02 (see Figure 3 for Chimoio example). SIMA has stated that these maize prices, never before seen in Mozambique, are the combined results of adverse climate (floods) in preceding years, the severe drought in Gaza and unusually high demand from cross border markets in Zimbabwe and Malawi, where serious shortages and even higher prices exist.


One encouraging sign is that in the first three weekds of March, prices in Maputo market fell by 32 percent, as supply from the new harvest became more evident and preliminary information from South Africa (normally a source of imports into Maputo) indicates that they will have a surplus maize harvest this year despite the drought.
It will be important to monitor prices closely, and in the context of upcoming assessment missions, planned with MADER and FAO/WFP/FEWS NET, to assess the impact these unusual prices have had on food access and to calculate the degree of food insecurity of the populations in the most drought-affected areas.


The Early Warning Department (DAP) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADER) in co-ordination with FAO, the Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN) and FEWS NET will carry out field visits throughout the country during the coming weeks, with the objective of establishing the first estimates of the first season crop yields (October to March/April).  Data obtained from the assessments should provide for the first crop production estimates for the first season. The more complete assessment will also help planning of drought response activities to be implemented during the second farming season (April/May 2002 to July/August 2002).  Government is expected to give its approval for the assessments in the very near future.


Tropical cyclones in Mozambique will have a categorization system designed to strengthen and simplify the early warning system. This system shall be operational beginning November 2002. It is hoped that the public will find the new system more understandable and that it will improve the level of response from people vulnerable to this type of threat.

USAID and FEWS NET/MIND, in co-ordination with INGC, INAM and a consultant from Australia specialized in tropical cyclones, have completed field studies in the districts most affected by cyclones such as Angoche, Marromeu, Búzi, Vilanculos, Inhambane, Xai-Xai, and Manjacaze, with the objective of collecting information on the infrastructure (schools, industry, hospitals, etc), food and perennial crops, cities and villages, which are most vulnerable to cyclone damage.  Fieldwork was conducted through interviews of the key informants, including administrators, traditional leaders, agriculture officials, meteorology, environment, water, INGC, Mozambique Red Cross and other NGOs operating in the field. Preliminary results were presented to the main partners in a seminar, for discussion and further use in planning the response system.

A workshop on "Strengthening of the Early Warning System and Tropical Cyclones in Mozambique" took place on 8 March 2002, at the Polana Hotel.  More than fifty participants from   INGC, Meteorology, WFP, USAID, FEWS NET/MIND, UNICEF, UNDP, Radio Mozambique, television, USGS/FEWS NET, GTZ, CVM, DNA, Religions Organizations and World Vision participated.  Presentations at the seminar confirmed that the Mozambican coast is prone to cyclones and tropical disturbances (Figure 4), and an average of nine cyclones or tropical disturbances could hit the coast annually. This means that, the coastal zone of Mozambique is exposed in about 10 percent of the annual total of cyclones and tropical disturbances affecting the globe. 

INAM is the institution responsible for the issue of early warnings on cyclones and tropical depressions. However, the public has had difficulties in understanding clearly the content of the messages and, therefore, the warnings do not have the intended impact of prompting their timely and appropriate action.  The New Cyclone Categorization System for Mozambique, together with public education, aims at improving the understanding of the warning messages and a better response for the protection of people and assets. Further reports on the system will be made, as it is operationalized.

The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) is funded by USAID
And managed by Chemonics International, Inc.

FEWS NET Mozambique
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
National Directorate of Agriculture
PO Box 1406
Maputo, Mozambique
Telephone: (258-1) 460008/460195/460588
Facsimile: (258-1) 460588