Multiple shocks will drive above-average acute food insecurity after the main harvest
Most households across the country face None (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, relying on their own food production and market purchases, and are expected to remain food secure through September. From February through March, most of the south is Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) while most of the central semiarid zone is in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as the lean season ends. In these areas, the 2020/2021 harvest beginning in April, will improve food security outcomes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Minimal (IPC Phase 1). Households impacted by tropical storm Chalane and cyclone Eloise face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, with affected households likely to recover through post-flood production if they have enough seeds to replant. In Cabo Delgado, the conflict is continuing to drive displacement and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.
Following a rapid increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths since January 1, 2021, the government has tightened containment measures, including implementing a 9 pm to 4 am curfew for the greater Maputo area. Although South Africa has reopened its main borders, strict COVID-19 control measures and tighter border controls for immigrants continue to impact informal cross-border trade and labor migration negatively. The current COVID-19 restrictions continue to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes among the poorest households in urban and peri-urban areas, as income from casual work and small business remains below average.
Humanitarian food assistance is ongoing and likely to continue until at least through March 2021. Most assistance is likely to be directed towards the internally displaced people (IDPs) in Cabo Delgado, drought-affected households in southern and central regions, households affected by tropical storm Chalane and cyclone Eloise, recent floods, and households recovering from cyclone Idai. However, current and planned assistance for IDPs in Cabo Delgado is likely insufficient to improve outcomes in the affected areas and among beneficiaries due to the continuous flow of displaced households. However, humanitarian assistance is likely improving area-level outcomes to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) in drought-affected areas. Current food assistance is assessed to cover around half of FEWS NET's estimated food assistance needs from January to March 2021.
An average harvest is expected from March to May 2021 as most productive areas benefit from favorable agro-climatic conditions, particularly in the central region. These areas include the highland areas of Sofala, Manica, Tete, Zambézia, and Niassa, the interior of Nampula, and the semiarid areas of southern and central Mozambique. In Sofala, Gaza, and Maputo's flood-prone areas, flooding is likely to drive below-average harvests. However, below-average rainfall is impacting yields in the coastal areas of Nampula and Cabo Delgado. However, if households have access to seeds, many flood risk areas are expected to recover with post-flood planting and second season production and harvest in June and July.
In December and January, market prices have increased following seasonal trends, but prices have also decreased or remained stable in other markets. In areas where humanitarian food distribution is taking place, maize grain prices in reference markets such as Chókwe in Gaza province and Pemba market in Cabo Delgado decreased by 11 percent and 12 percent. In January, maize grain prices were 10 to 38 percent lower than respective prices last year and 8-43 percent above the five-year average across most markets. However, in the Chókwe market, maize grain prices in January were 21 percent below the five-year average. As typical, maize meal and rice prices were generally stable except for short-term variations based on localized supply and demand dynamics.