Cyclone Favio hit the east coast of Mozambique February 22, two weeks after floods displaced thousands of people further north in the Zambezi Valley (Figure 1). The cyclone destroyed thousands of houses, damaged infrastructure, including food warehouses and caused at least eight deaths and numerous injuries. Detailed damage assessments are still underway, but preliminary estimates indicate that the tropical storm affected 160,000 people. Two weeks after the cyclone, people are repairing or rebuilding houses, fixing downed power lines and removing fallen trees, corrugated roofing and other debris. Despite recovery efforts, thousands of people are in urgent need of construction materials. Affected households also lost important food and income assets, including food reserves, crops that were near maturation and fruit trees.
Food distributions are ongoing in cyclone-affected areas, though plans are underway to shift from food assistance to agricultural reinforcements – including provision of seeds for immediate second-season planting where conditions permit. Non-food interventions, such as water, sanitation and infrastructure rehabilitation, are also underway.
While floods in the Zambezi and Buzi basins have limited the movement of goods and people, causing short-term food insecurity, a good flood-recession harvest is likely in mid-2007, if affected households receive assistance – especially seeds and tools.
Food insecurity is a concern in the drought-affected southern region, including areas that cyclone Favio struck. While the storm’s rainfall will enable replanting of short-cycle maize and bean crops in some areas of the central region, it had little beneficial effect in much of the South. Initial prospects indicate that the main season harvest will be very poor in southern and parts of south-central Mozambique – including Machanga District in Sofala Province and Machaze District in Manica Province – due to a failure of staple maize crops in many areas and greatly reduced yields from other crops.
Despite moderate crop damage and some transport disruptions due to excessive rains, a good harvest is still expected in the productive northern and central zones, except for the south-central districts mentioned above. However, production surpluses in the North will likely do little to improve food security in the South, due to long distances and high transport costs. Assistance should therefore be targeted to remote zones, such as the interior of Gaza and Inhambane, where household access to food and income is heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture.