Mozambique

Mozambique: Food needs assessment updated


Highlights

A rapid emergency food needs assessment was conducted from 22 July to 11 August 2002 by teams from WFP, FEWS NET, the Ministry of Agriculture (MADER) and the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC). Final results of the assessment will be released by the end of August, but preliminary analysis shows a slight increase in the total number of people requiring food aid.

Overall, the number of people needing emergency assistance is expected to drop in Manica, Tete, Inhambane and Gaza, while estimated needs may increase in Sofala and Zambezia with the inclusion of several new districts.

In Nampula Province, the team found no general need for food assistance in the coastal districts despite the effects of cassava disease. Cassava is the main staple food in the region and production has been greatly reduced, but households have other food and income sources (including fishing) that are adequate to meet their minimum food and non-food needs. Urgent action is necessary to multiply and transport disease-resistant varieties to farmers.

Retail maize prices fell slightly in the middle of August in Maputo, due to an increase in supply from various domestic markets. Prices in Beira continued to rise gradually. Prices are higher than normal for this time of year, and they are expected to continue to rise as the year progresses. The rate and extent of the rise will be key determinants of food security in the coming months.

The probability of El Niño has risen to more than 95%, making it virtually certain that El Niño conditions will persist through the remainder of 2002 and into early 2003. Climate experts will be forecasting the potential impacts of this El Niño on Mozambique and the rest of the region at the Southern Africa Climate Outlook Forum in early September.

Initial seasonal forecasts produced by the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI) show a slightly increased probability of dry conditions in southern Mozambique, with a slightly increased probability of wetter than normal conditions in the Zambezi Valley.

Emergency Rapid Food Assessment Completed

Four teams composed of technical staff from WFP, FEWS NET, the Ministry of Agriculture (MADER) and the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) conducted a rapid emergency food needs assessment from 22 July to 11 August 2002. The teams worked in the most drought-affected districts in the country, as identified in the FAO and WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, which was conducted in April-May of this year. The teams visited Manica, Tete, Sofala, Zambezia and Inhambane, and updated previous field work in Gaza. One team also visited Nampula Province in order to assess the impact of cassava disease on household food security. For the Provinces that the teams did not cover (Maputo, Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Gaza), a questionnaire was developed and sent to the district offices of the Ministry of Agriculture.

The food economy approach was used for data collection and analysis in Tete, Manica and Nampula Provinces. Baseline assessments previously carried out in Gaza Province and in parts of Inhambane Province were used to project needs for the current year in these areas. More rapid techniques were used in Sofala and Zambezia Provinces.

The final report will be released by the end of August. The preliminary conclusions and figures presented here may change during the final analysis of information.

The Preliminary Results Of The Mission

In Nampula Province, the team found that there is no general need for food assistance in the coastal districts that have been affected by cassava disease. Cassava is the main staple food in the region and production has been greatly reduced, but households have other food and income sources (including fishing) that are adequate to meet their minimum food and non-food needs.

The team did find, however, that there is a sub-zone within Memba District where food assistance is required. In this sub-zone, households are facing a problem of access to land because a cashew company owns vast tracts of fertile land in the area. Combined with the current year problems of drought and cassava disease, the team estimated that poor and lower middle households in this area are facing a deficit of approximately 5 months of food (from September through February). Another characteristic of the people in this sub-zone is that they do not fish, unlike most population groups in the coastal zones of Nampula Province.

In Manica Province, the most affected areas continue to be parts of Guro, Machaze, Macossa and Tambara Districts. Although households have considerable access to cash income in the Semi-Arid Interior of Manica Province, there appears to be a problem of market access in this remote part of the Province, as households have to travel long distances to purchase food. Consequently, a deficit has been calculated for poor households in this zone, of roughly 3 months of food until the next harvest. In the most northerly part of the Province, poor households in the Zambezi Valley face a deficit of 3-4 months due to drought. The overall number of people in need in the Province has dropped from that estimated in the April-May assessment.

During the April-May 2002 assessment in Tete Province, seven districts were identified for assistance. Magoe District had the largest percentage of the population in need with 40%, followed by Cahora Bassa with 30%, Changara with 29% and Mutarara with 25%. These percentages have fallen slightly in this new assessment. The current assessment found that poor households in the various zones of the Zambezi Valley are unlikely to be able to make up the crop production lost to drought through market purchase due to extremely high anticipated staple food prices later this year.

In Inhambane Province, Funhalouro District continues to be the most affected by drought, as identified in the FAO-WFP mission, with 33% of the population in need. Mabote District follows this with 29% and Panda with 20% of the population in need. The rest of the districts in Inhambane Province vary from 0 to 8% of the population in need. The most difficult period will be from September/October to December. The overall number of people in need has dropped from the estimates of the April- May assessment.

An updated analysis of the food economy zones in Gaza Province, combined with the results of the questionnaires, has also reduced the number of people in need from the April-May assessment. Poor and middle households in the Upper Limpopo and Interior Zones of Gaza are particularly in need this year, with deficits of up to 4 months of food. Households in the Lower Limpopo and Coastal Zones are likely to be able to cope with the current drought, due to their varied and relatively substantial income sources and consequent ability to purchase food from local markets, despite prices much higher than normal for this time of year.

The population in need in Sofala Province has increased by roughly 20% due to the inclusion of parts of two new districts (Chemba and Maringue) at the request of the local authorities. The assessment team confirmed needs in these districts and adjusted previous estimates of need in two other districts.

The FAO-WFP April-May mission to Zambezia Province identified only one affected district, which was Chinde. However, the local authorities have also requested assistance for Inhassunge, Pebane, Maganja da Costa and Namacurra Districts. Small percentages of the population have been included for each of these districts.

Maize Retail Prices Relatively Stable in Maputo and Beira



Following the normal seasonal trends, retail maize prices experienced a significant decrease from March to May just after the harvest. As a result of poor harvests in parts of the country in the 2001/2002 cropping season and strong regional demand, prices in Beira are steadily increasing. Prices started to rise one month after the harvest, and have continued to increase even while the second season crops are being harvested.

Retail maize prices in Maputo also started to creep upward in June and July, but in the last two weeks of August, prices fell sharply due to an increase in supply from various domestic sources. This appears to have been a short-term drop, as prices are increasing in Maputo at the end of August. No commercial imports of white maize from South Africa or food aid were observed in Maputo's markets. Maputo prices are still higher than Beira prices, mostly due to high transport costs. Maize being sold in the Maputo markets is coming from distant places in central Mozambique, such as Gorongosa, Inchope, Muchungue and Chimoio.

Throughout the country prices are higher than normal for this time of year and prices are expected to continue to rise as the year progress. The rate and extent of this rise will be key determinants of food security in the coming months.

El Niño Probability Increases to 97%; First Seasonal Forecasts Mixed for Mozambique



It is now virtually certain that an El Niño event that will persist through the remainder of 2002 and into early 2003. The probability has increased to more than 95%, although the strength of this El Niño is forecast to be weak to moderate, significantly less than the 1997-98 event. The associated climate effects are generally expected to be weaker than the 1997-98 El Niño but still may be substantial in some areas.

The potential effects of El Niño differ widely around the globe, and each El Niño event is unique. In general terms, Southern Africa often experiences drier than normal conditions during an El Niño, although drought does not occur in every El Niño year. In 1997/98, the El Niño event was very strong globally, but it did not result in the expected drought across all of Southern Africa as had been feared. El Niño normal reaches its peak during the December to February period.

Regional and international climate scientists will examine the El Niño trends, as well as other indicators at the Southern Africa Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF), to be held from 4-6 September in Harare. The scientists will produce a consensus climate forecast for the coming rainy season. One input to the SARCOF will be the forecasts from the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI) which show a slight probability of below normal rains for southern Mozambique during the critical November to January rainfall season (see yellow areas on Figure 3). The IRI also forecasts a slightly enhanced chance of above normal rains in central Mozambique and throughout the Zambezi River Basin (see light green areas on Figure 3).


Lack of Rainfall Impacting Water Availability




Poor rainfall earlier this year in the center and south of Mozambique, and in neighboring countries of Southern Africa, has resulted in low river and dam levels across the country. Water scarcity is increasing in some areas especially in the center and south.

The level of stored water in dams is low and gradually decreasing, as seen on the graphic for Cahora Bassa (Figure 4). The water level at Cahora Bassa lake is well below the recommended level for this time of year, and likely to continue to decline until the start of the next rainy season in the upper reaches of the Zambezi basin in October. The dam levels did not rise to the expected levels during the last rainy season, peaking in early March several meters below the desired levels.

The upcoming rainy season will be critical for replenishing water levels in the dams across the country. Seasonal rivers have dried in much of the country, and major rivers such as the Limpopo have reached very low levels as seen on the Figure 5 for Combomune Station. At Combomune, river levels rose sharply with the heavy rains in November and December 2001, but dropped off sharply when the rains abruptly halted at the beginning of 2002. The thin blue lines at the top of the Figure show the virtual absence of rainfall at Combomune for the entire calendar year of 2002.