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Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes expected to persist in northern and southern Mozambique

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • October 2022 - May 2023
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes expected to persist in northern and southern Mozambique

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  • Messages clé
  • Assumptions
  • Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
  • Messages clé
    • In October, most rural households face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, supported by their food stocks and food purchases. However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes persist in areas recovering from natural disasters. In drought-affected areas of southern and central Mozambique, cyclone/storm-affected areas in Nampula province, and conflict-affected areas of Cabo Delgado, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist as households' food stocks are diminished following a significantly below-average 2022 harvest. In Cabo Delgado, areas receiving humanitarian assistance are likely Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!). With a forecast average rainy season, acute food insecurity is expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) across much of Mozambique as households access the 2023 harvest in March/April 2023. 

    • In August and September, the Food Security Cluster (FSC) partners provided humanitarian food assistance to just over 1 million people in northern Mozambique. Due to funding constraints and increased need, WFP continues to distribute half rations equivalent to 39 percent of daily kilocalories through January 2023. Additionally, WFP is continuing to conduct a vulnerability-based targeting exercise to prioritize assistance according to vulnerability status instead of displacement. In October, WFP began providing humanitarian food assistance to more than 22,500 people in the drought-affected areas, complemented by the distribution of agricultural kits to boost food production during the 2022/2023 agricultural season.

    • The forecast average rainy season is likely to support average crop production for the 2022/2023 agricultural season across most of Mozambique. However, from January to March 2023, there is an increased risk of flooding across most river basins in central and southern Mozambique. To reduce the risk of flooding, the Pequenos Libombos, Massingir, and Cahora Bassa dam authorities are gradually increasing discharges to build retention capacity to accommodate upstream flows through the upcoming rainy season.

    • In September 2022, maize grain prices increased or remained stable in most monitored markets. Following seasonal trends, prices increased 9 to 13 percent in Mocuba, Massinga, Manica, and Lichinga while remaining relatively stable across other monitored markets. However, maize prices fell another 10 percent in the Mutarara market as the market stabilizes after prices doubled in July. Compared to the five-year average, maize grain prices in September are 11 to 47 percent above the five-year average in most monitored markets but 5 to 16 percent below the five-year average in Lichinga, Mocuba, and Montepuez. The above-average trend in maize grain prices in most markets across the country is likely driven by the cumulative effect of successive price increases over the past four years, following multiple production shocks, including cyclones, floods, and below-average rainfall. Maize meal and rice prices remained stable from August to September 2022 in all monitored markets but had a mixed trend compared to 2021 and the five-year average.        


    Preliminary production estimates of the 2022 harvest. Following the end of the 2022 harvest, preliminary data from the ministry of agriculture and rural development (MADER) estimates that around 2.53 metric tons (MT) of cereals (maize grain, sorghum, millet, rice) was harvested-a 15 percent increase compared to the 2021 harvest - despite the impact of prolonged dry spells, and damage from flooding and tropical storms/cyclones during the growing season. More specifically, around 2.13 million MT of maize was estimated to be harvested, a 17 percent increase compared to 2021, while sorghum, millet, and rice production increased by 0.6 to 6.6 percent compared to 2021. Similarly, around 7.1 million MT of tubers (cassava, sweet potato, and potatoes) were harvested in 2022, a 5.4 percent increase compared to last year, along with 308,900 MT of oilseeds and 572,590 MT of legumes. The rise in crop production is being attributed to continued investments in agricultural production, including the government's SUSTENTA program. The 2022 harvest is supporting food availability and household food access across much of rural Mozambique, driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.

    Food balance. Following the 2022 harvest, MADER estimates that Mozambique has a surplus of maize (658,000 MT), beans and peanuts (67,000 MT), and cassava and tubers (892,000 MT). However, there are deficits for husked rice (-194,000 MT), wheat (-443,000 MT), and sorghum and millet (-128,000 MT). According to IndexMundi, Mozambique imported around 800,000 MT of wheat in 2022, around 10 percent more than in 2021, and 760,000 MT of milled rice, around 15 percent more than in 2021. 

    Ongoing income-earning activities: Across Mozambique, households are engaged in land preparation and planting, particularly in the southern zone where the rainy season has already started. Poor households who have already exhausted their food reserves are also earning income from agricultural labor and self-employment, such as the production and sale of charcoal, traditional drinks, clay blocks, and the collection and sale of forest products such as poles for construction, reeds, straw for covering traditional houses, the harvesting and sale of fruits and cashew nuts. Increasingly younger income earners are seeking income from artisanal mining, particularly in the central and northern zones. Hunting, often done illegally, is also carried out by some households residing in the buffer zones of national reserves. However, in shock-affected areas, such as the drought-affected southern zone, cyclone-affected parts of Nampula, and conflict-affected Cabo Delgado, income-generating activities are limited due to increased competition and below-average payment power of potential buyers. In urban areas, economic activity is gradually returning to normal following the general lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, with poor households primarily engaging in petty trade and casual labor to earn income.

    Impact of storms and cyclones. In the coastal and intermediate areas of Nampula severely affected by Tropical Cyclone Gombe and two tropical storms earlier this year, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist among the very poor households struggling to earn income for market purchases following the loss of their main 2022 harvest, food reserves, livelihood assets, and homes. Most of these households have not recovered due to increased focus on rebuilding their homes and a lack of seeds and agricultural inputs to plant in the post-flood period. The most affected households have limited employment opportunities to earn income to purchase food and depend on family and friends' support. Most of these very poor households are expected to face food consumption gaps indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until the start of the main harvest in April 2023.

    Conflict. September was characterized by several attacks in Cabo Delgado and neighboring parts of Nampula province, destroying infrastructure and houses and causing fatalities. According to the IOM's Tracking Matrix, around 33,400 people in Cabo Delgado were registered on the move between August 31 and October 3, with around 60 percent of people reporting to be on the move because of attacks or fear of attacks, while 38 percent were on the move with the intention of returning to their place of origin or joining their families. According to government sources, the attacks in the districts of Memba and Eráti, in Nampula province, were aimed at recruiting new members of the insurgents. Most displaced households from the two districts have either returned to their areas of origin or are being taken in by relatives and friends. However, humanitarian assistance needs remain high and urgent for households that have not returned and the returnees that have lost their homes and livelihood assets. The INGD estimates that around 47,000 people were displaced in Erati district. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is most likely in the conflict-affected areas where access to humanitarian assistance is limited due to insecurity. In the more accessible areas of Cabo Delgado, where humanitarian partners can regularly distribute humanitarian food assistance to the IDPs and host communities, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are present.

    Maize grain, flour, and rice prices. According to price data from the Agricultural Market Information System (SIMA), in September 2022, maize grain prices increased or remained stable in most monitored markets. Following seasonal trends, prices increased by 9-13 percent in Mocuba, Massinga, Manica, and Lichinga and remained stable in all other markets. However, in the Mutarara market, maize grain prices declined 10 percent, following a 12 percent decline in August; however, the market is likely stabilizing after maize prices doubled in July following a poor harvest in low-lying areas that flooded during Tropical Storm Ana and Tropical Cyclone Gombe. With the entry of maize grain from surplus areas, the price is gradually decreasing. Compared to last year, maize grain prices are either similar or 9 to 38 percent below prices in September 2021 but 13 and 52 percent above prices in September 2021 in Chókwe and Massinga, likely due to below-average production in the south and increased demand with the start of the lean season. Maize grain prices were also 11 to 47 percent above the five-year average in most monitored markets but 5 to 16 percent below the five-year average in Lichinga, Mocuba, and Montepuez. The above-average maize grain prices in most markets are likely related to the cumulative effect of successive price increases over the past four years, following multiple shocks, including cyclones, floods, and drought that reduced local market supply. Maize meal and rice prices remain stable in all monitored markets, but prices were either above, below, or similar to prices in 2021 and the five-year average.

    Inflation. According to Mozambique's National Institute of Statistics (INE), the annual inflation rate declined to 12.01 percent in September, the first time since March 2022 that annual inflation has declined. On a monthly basis, the consumer price index increased by 0.64 percent in September, largely driven by increases in food and non-alcoholic beverages. In particular, the INE highlights price inflation for lemons, tomatoes, taxi transport, dried fish, coconut, charcoal, and horse mackerel. However, inflation was muted in the rest of the consumer price basket. According to Oxford Economics, the 20-point economic stimulus plan the government implemented in August to contain inflation is also having a minor impact and is likely providing some relief to retailers and local agricultural producers. The continued high cost of living is reducing household purchasing power as household demand for market purchases is increasing with the beginning of the typical lean season.

    Humanitarian food assistance. In the August/September cycle, the Food Security Cluster (FSC) partners provided humanitarian food assistance to just over 1 million people in northern Mozambique, with most beneficiaries receiving reduced food rations equivalent to around 39 percent of daily kilocalories through General Food Distributions (GFD), with around 9,000 people receiving Immediate Response Rations (IRR), that provide 200 g of canned sardines, 10 kg rice, 2 liters of vegetable cooking oil, 100 g of PlumpySup, and one high energy biscuit that typically can support one person for seven days. Due to funding constraints and increased need, WFP is continuing to distribute rations equivalent to 39 percent of daily kilocalories through January 2023. To ensure the most vulnerable people are reached, WFP is continuing to conduct a vulnerability-based targeting exercise to prioritize assistance according to vulnerability status instead of displacement, mitigate protection issues, and enhance the transparency of the humanitarian assistance distribution process. To build livelihoods in Cabo Delgado, WFP is planning to provide up to 160,000 people with livelihood interventions (agricultural kits) in eight districts for the upcoming planting season. Additionally, the FAO, ICRC, IDE, and UNDP are expanding their programming across Cabo Delgado and Nampula. WFP's northern Mozambique operations have increased to 19.7 million USD per month to sustain, while the 2022 Mozambique Humanitarian Response Plan is currently around 57 percent funded. Additional funding will be essential to ensure targeted results through May 2023. In southern Mozambique, WFP will be providing just over 22,600 people in Gaza province with nine months of full rations of humanitarian assistance equivalent to 78 percent of daily kilocalories, along with a package of integrated interventions to boost food production such as seeds, tools, and training from district agricultural extension officers for the upcoming agriculture season.

    Management of the main dams. Since mid-October, the discharges from the Pequenos Libombos, Massingir, and Cahora Bassa dams have gradually increased, resulting in rising water levels along the Umbelúzi, Limpopo, and Zambezi rivers, which is likely to continue until mid-December. As a result of the rise in water levels, small agricultural fields located on small islands and along the river are at risk of being flooded. Local authorities in some districts along the Zambezi Basin have relocated hundreds of households that tend to cultivate fields along the river and in the highlands.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    Across most of rural Mozambique, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are present as households have access to food stocks and regular income-earning opportunities. In the drought-affected areas of southern and parts of central Mozambique, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist as poor households face food consumption gaps due to limited access to food and income following a significantly below average 2022 harvest. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are also present in conflict-affected areas of Cabo Delgado province, where sporadic attacks continue to displace households and limit access to food and income-earning opportunities. Similarly, in areas of Nampula affected by Cyclone Gombe, Tropical Storm Ana, and the low pressure zone associated with Tropical Storm Dumako, poor households that lost their food reserves and access to their typical income-earning opportunities continue to have limited access to income-earning opportunities and remain dependent on support from family and friends or are engaging in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. In areas recovering from the cumulative effect of recurrent shocks over the past few years, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes persist as severely affected families can earn income to meet their food needs but not their non-food needs. However, in areas where humanitarian assistance is being regularly distributed, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes persist. 


    The most likely scenario from October 2022 to May 2023 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Based on forecast model and forecast climate modes, average rainfall is most likely between October and December in central and southern Mozambique. However, below-average rainfall and a likely slow season start are most likely during the same period in northern Mozambique. Between December 2022 and March 2023, there is an increased likelihood of an average number of cyclone strikes in Madagascar and Mozambique, based on a review of information from models and regional forecasts.
    • Between October 2022 and March 2023, average rainfall is most likely across much of central Mozambique, while above-average rainfall is most likely in southern Mozambique. However, below-average rainfall and likely slow start of the season are most likely in northern Mozambique.
    • The 2022/2023 agricultural season is expected to be average in the major crop-growing areas of Mozambique. As typical, there is the potential for crop damage from pests and diseases, including fall armyworm (FAW), locusts, and rodents, although normal to above-normal rainfall can help suppress the level of infestation.
    • According to the National Directorate for the Management of Water Resources (DNGRH), the highest risk of flooding is from January to March 2023. Flooding along major watersheds will likely result in crop losses, particularly in low-lying areas. However, post-flood planting is likely to provide a harvest, providing some recovery for affected areas.
    • Based on available official estimates and the national food balance sheet, it is likely that food availability for the 2022/2023 consumption year is close to average. However, in southern and central semi-arid areas affected by prolonged dry spells and drought and in areas of Nampula province affected by cyclones/storms/floods, local harvests were below-average. The variation in production is likely to influence household market demand during the lean season and local market supply and demand dynamics.
    • FEWS NET price projections indicate that maize grain prices in the Maputo market are likely to remain relatively stable and similar to last year; however, prices are likely to be higher than last year from January to April 2023 due to increased market demand (Figure 1). From October 2022 to March 2023, maize grain prices are expected to remain above the five-year average. Maize meal and rice prices are expected to remain relatively stable throughout the scenario period. Prices for imported and processed commodities such as rice and maize meal are expected to remain more stable than bulk grain prices, but short-term variations will be based on localized supply and demand dynamics.
    • Staple food domestic trade flows are expected to be normal along major routes and fill the market deficits in areas with below-normal production. As typical, the central and northern markets will be primarily supplied by maize grain from local or nearby districts, while the central zone markets will predominantly supply southern zone markets. In parts of Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces, the flow of food commodities will be constrained due to the ongoing conflict. Cereal imports, particularly maize and rice, will remain at typical levels.
    • Informal cross-border trade is expected to be average following the lifting of most COVID-19 related cross-border trade restrictions. Informal maize cross-border flows from Niassa, and Tete provinces into Malawi, and formal cross-border trade from South Africa into Maputo and other ports are projected to remain normal through the scenario period. Livestock pasture across Mozambique is expected to remain average through the scenario period. Livestock body conditions are average and expected to follow typical seasonal trends. The average to above-average 2022/23 rainy season is expected to improve rangeland resources and gradually improve livestock body conditions. Livestock prices are expected to remain close to the five-year average.
    • Wild food availability will be average to above average due to the expected favorable agro-climatic conditions. The availability of green foods is expected to be timely and close to normal throughout Mozambique.
    • In urban and peri-urban areas, poor household incomes from mostly informal businesses are likely to remain below pre-COVID-19 levels as most informal activities and job providers are still recovering from the impact of the lifted COVID-19 restrictions. Rural households are expected to earn below-average income from self-employment activities such as the sale of charcoal, firewood, and handicrafts due to low demand from urban centers as high inflation, in particular, lowers urban household purchasing power.
    • In rural areas, agricultural labor opportunities are expected to be close to normal. However, in areas affected by shocks in the 2021/2022 agricultural season, poor households are expected to earn their wages in 2023 following the harvest through in-kind, cash, and other payment modalities. In these areas, households are expected to engage in agricultural labor opportunities and self-employment activities to earn income for market purchases.
    • Migration to urban centers and South Africa are likely to be lower than normal as rural households seek to maximize farming opportunities given the favorable forecast. 
    • Despite the government's shift towards a longer-term peacekeeping operation, insurgent activity will likely continue to remain focused in Cabo Delgado, with the targeting of security forces, village raids, and roadside ambushes expected to continue. The incidents in Nampula likely do not represent a sustained and significant expansion of the conflict to Nampula province. As with the June attack and subsequent assaults into southern Cabo Delgado, raiding parties will be forced to return to northern and central Cabo Delgado to access their local support networks or risk being isolated and eliminated. The risk of attacks remains concentrated in rural areas of Nampula province and relatively isolated communities and roadways. The insurgent group cannot conduct attacks in larger urban centers and has not previously demonstrated an interest in carrying out suicide bombings or attacks in which their fighters would not be able to extricate themselves. Nonetheless, further raids and cross-border attacks into northern Nampula province over the coming months are likely to increase, though they will remain dwarfed compared to attacks in Cabo Delgado.
    • For the October and November 2022 cycle, WFP will continue to provide reduced food rations equivalent to around 39 percent of daily kilocalories to over 1 million beneficiaries. However, WFP will resume distributing regular rations, equivalent to 78 percent of daily kilocalorie in December and January. However, due to funding constraints, there is a potential pipeline break in February. In southern Mozambique, WFP will continue providing food assistance, complemented by packages of integrated interventions to boost food production during the 2022/2023 agriculture season to approximately 22,600 people in four districts of Gaza through March 2023. 

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From October 2022 to January 2023, the lean season will begin in the southern zone in October and gradually extend to the central and northern zones in November and December. The onset of rainfall in November is likely to increase agricultural labor opportunities such as land preparation, planting, and weeding. However, agricultural wages in drought and flood-affected areas are likely to be lower than normal due to the lower-paying power of middle and wealthy households following below-normal sales from the 2022 harvest. By December, most of the very poor and poor households in Mozambique will have depleted their food stocks, increasing their dependence on market food purchases. Although, agricultural labor opportunities are expected to increase household incomes to average levels with the start of the 2022/2023 agricultural season and the forecast average rainfall, high inflation will likely keep household purchasing power below normal. Most households will begin to intensify their typical coping strategies to meet their food needs, including reducing non-food expenditures, purchasing less preferred foods, increasing reliance on market purchases, and supplementing their diet with wild foods where available. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to prevail in drought and flood/storm-affected areas as poor households continue to experience food consumption deficits due to below-average income and above-average food prices, limiting household purchasing power at markets. Across Mozambique, the poorest households, with no livestock to sell and unable to engage in income-earning activities such as the production and sale of charcoal, are likely to intensify their engagement in coping strategies such as reducing meal sizes and the number of meals per day, increasing their consumption of wild foods, sending one or more family members to relatives in other locations, and even migrating to areas with more income-generating opportunities, including areas along the main charcoal production and marketing corridors. In conflict-affected areas, sporadic attacks and fear of attacks will limit income-earning opportunities and engagement in the 2022/2023 agricultural season.

    Between February and May 2023, there will be a transition between the lean and harvest seasons. With the start of the green harvest in February and March, poor households will likely continue to expand their livelihood and survival strategies to meet their food needs, particularly in areas recovering from previous shocks (dry spells, storms/cyclones, flooding) has been slow. Between April and May, most areas affected by dry spells in the south/central zones and areas affected by storms/cyclones/floods in Nampula will transition to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Minimal (IPC Phase 1), depending on the harvest and level of recovery. In conflict-affected areas, the effect of sporadic attacks, limited access to income-earning opportunities, and limited engagement in the agricultural season, combined with high staple food prices, will likely continue to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. However, in areas where HFA is reaching at least one in four people, area-level Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are expected.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Table 1. Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario. 

    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalAbsence of humanitarian food assistance Acute malnutrition and increased acute food insecurity are expected to increase until the start of the 2023 harvest, along with the number of people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes. 
    NationalScale-up of humanitarian food assistance The scale-up of HFA is likely to improve household food access through the outlook period and lead to area-level Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes in Cabo Delgado, Nampula, and southern Mozambique. 
    NationalLimited access to seedsPoor households will plant less than planned, likely lowering their harvest and the opportunity to improve their food stocks and income from crop sales. The reduction in the area planted will also reduce agricultural labor opportunities and household income through the lean season. 
    NationalTraders do not respond to market demands as anticipated, and no additional stocks flow to the deficit areas.Local markets will be undersupplied, increasing food prices. Food access for market-dependent poor households will be more difficult, particularly in areas affected by shocks. Reduced market access will increase food consumption gaps among poor households. 

    Coastal Areas

    Cyclones and floods striking the coastal areas of Mozambique The risk of cyclones and floods is through March 2023. The worst affected households will likely face food gaps until they recover through post-shock production beyond the scenario period.

    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report. 


    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1.

    Figure 3

    Figure 1.

    Source: FEWS NET estimates based on MADER/SIMA data

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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