FEWS NET has issued a food security warning for Mozambique, indicating that certain population groups are now, or are about to become, highly food insecure. These groups will be forced to reduce consumption, dispose of their productive assets and take increasingly irreversible actions that undermine their future food security. The areas of most immediate concern are remote parts of Gaza, Tete and Inhambane Provinces.
Comparisons of the current drought to past events show that the current season's rainfall, from October-January, was the lowest in more than 50 years in Maputo. This year's drought is much more severe than last year's, and is similar in spatial extent and severity to the 1991/92 drought.
NGOs and others working in the field have provided qualitative reports on the food security situation in the affected zones. The situation is becoming critical in areas where crop failure is combined with a lack of diversity in access to food and income, such as the interior of Gaza and Inhambane and southern Tete. In southwest Tete, reports of hunger-related deaths in January sparked several emergency assessments, which resulted in immediate increases in food aid deliveries for general and supplementary feeding.
Pockets of food insecurity exist in other areas where crops have failed. Although most people have alternative sources of food and income, the poorest households may be expending their remaining resources quickly.
New season maize is starting to enter the market in a few places. Retail prices remain higher than in previous years, although prices should start to decrease in the coming months.
Tropical cyclone Japhet made landfall on 2 March 2003, with the eye of the cyclone passing near Vilankulos District in Inhambane Province. Damage assessments are still underway, but preliminary reports indicate many traditional houses and trees have been destroyed and several injuries have occurred. The storm will dissipate over land as it heads across southern Sofala and Manica toward Zimbabwe.
FEWS NET issues food security warning
FEWS NET issued a food security warning for Mozambique on 28 February 2003. A warning is issued when "population groups are now, or about to become, highly food insecure, unable to meet their own food needs during the given consumption period. These groups will be forced to reduce consumption, dispose of their productive assets and take increasingly irreversible actions that undermine their future food security."
In summary, the warning states:
"A serious deterioration in the food security status of vulnerable populations in southern and central Mozambique is occurring and is expected to worsen over the next twelve months. A near-total crop failure in some zones, following a poor harvest last year, has been the primary cause of the current situation. Food insecurity is most critical in remote zones where household access to food and income is heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture, such as the interior of Gaza and Inhambane and southern Tete. Other contributing factors include human, plant and animal diseases, as well as the economic situation in neighboring Zimbabwe. Malnutrition rates after last year's poor harvest were already higher than in most of the region. Rates are likely to increase markedly in the coming year after households consume whatever crops they harvest and exhaust their already weakened coping strategies."
The full text of the warning can be found here.
(pdf* format - 802 KB)