Immediate food assistance needed due to drought, floods, cyclone
Immediate food assistance is needed for 520,000 people in Mozambique until March 2008 due to increasing food insecurity, according to recent monitoring by the Vulnerability Assessment Group of the Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition (GAV/SETSAN). Slow deliveries of emergency supplies, high food prices and limited coping strategies, particularly in the southern portion of the country, are exacerbating existing food insecurity. An additional 140,000 people are at risk of food insecurity and may need humanitarian assistance from October to March 2008 if ongoing harvests for the second agricultural season cannot mitigate current vulnerabilities.
Figure 1. Hazard-affected areas of Mozambique
Significant rainfall deficits, combined with other shocks that affected Mozambique in early 2007 – including Cyclone Favio, which struck parts of southern and central Mozambique in February, and flooding along the Zambezi River in February and March (Figure 1) – led to production levels in southern Mozambique that were 27 percent below the 2005/06 season and 18 percent below the five-year average. While the lean period normally starts in October, below-normal main-season agricultural production in the south will likely cause this year's hunger season to begin a month early.
Average maize prices in southern Mozambique in mid-August were 30 percent higher than last year at this time and about 50 percent higher than the five-year average, limiting market access to food for the majority of households. Despite maize production surpluses in the north and parts of the central provinces, trade flows are likely to be insufficient to cover production deficits in the south, given the high cost of transportation to the region.
As the country approaches the main 2007/08 agriculture season, planning for and implementation of inputs trade fairs and the expansion of drought-mitigation activities is recommended. Urgent resource mobilization for food aid and other inputs is also needed.