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Crisis outcomes extend to areas in the central region

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mozambique
  • April 2016
Crisis outcomes extend to areas in the central region

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Food access and availability will continue to be limited after the April and May harvest due to near-total crop failure in many areas of the south and expectations for a poor harvest in parts of the central region due to the El Niño-related drought. Labor availability is below normal, severely limiting incomes. With high staple prices, including maize grain 143 percent above the five-year average, purchasing power has fallen significantly. 

    • It is expected that maize grain prices will remain significantly high in most markets through March 2017 due to prospects for a poor 2015/16 harvest. Maize meal and rice prices will atypically remain unstable with moderate rises due to increasing demand for these staple substitutes. Food access will be severely restricted as poor households increasingly rely on market purchases more than usual and for longer periods until the next harvest in March 2017. 

    • Results from the March 2016 food security assessment by the Vulnerability Assessment Group of the Technical Secretariat of Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN/GAV) indicate that acute food security outcomes have deteriorated since November 2015. Current estimates based on the assessment indicate that 1.5 million people are facing acute food insecurity. Based on analysis from the assessment, FEWS NET estimates even more people will be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes than previously reported, with 755,000 people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and 740,000 people in Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    • From April to September, in much of the south and central regions, the poorest households will not meet their minimum food needs and will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), requiring urgent food assistance, while others will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). It is anticipated that outcomes will further deteriorate after the outlook period, increasing the number of people in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 


    Drought conditions intensified in early and mid-February in much of the south and parts of central Mozambique. The low rainfall in these areas, combined with high temperatures, led to low water availability and wilting of crops. This has resulted in further reductions in expected production, which had already been impacted by moisture stress and wilting earlier in the season. Following this dry spell, heavy rains set in across most parts of the country in late February and early March. However, these rains were generally too late to benefit crops in the affected areas due to the negative impact of the previous dry conditions. In some areas where crops had not succumbed to the preceding heat and dryness, such as coastal Inhambane Province, central Manica Province, western and eastern portions of Tete Province, and parts of the interior of Sofala Province, the late rains helped crops to reach maturity. The Crop and Early Warning Unit (DCAP) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) indicated in mid-April that drought and excessive rains affected 67 out of the country’s 154 districts. DCAP estimates nearly 879,000 hectares of mixed crops have been lost, with 3,000 hectares from excessive rains and the rest due to drought. According to MASA/DCAP, about 18 percent of the total planted area was lost. On livestock, MASA/DCAP estimated there were nearly 5,708 cattle deaths (approximately 0.32 percent of the estimated national total) due to drought, mainly in Maputo and Gaza Provinces.

    SETSAN/GAV conducted a food security assessment in March in seven provinces through structured household interviews and community focus groups, along with visits to local markets to assess staple food prices. SETSAN/GAV determined that the overall level of acute food insecurity has deteriorated since November 2015, estimating 1.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Tete is the province with the highest number of people in need (334,413), followed by Sofala (329,022), Zambézia (254,379), Gaza (202,282), Inhambane (129,827), Maputo (123,960) and Manica (92,484). However, the assessment does not provide any breakdown based on severity and/or timeframes. Overall, in six of the seven provinces (except Zambézia), SETSAN found that more than 98 percent of households had no cereal reserves and less than 10 percent were hoping to harvest some cereals. The majority of households had made at least three planting attempts, exhausting seeds for the upcoming second season and for the 2016/17 agriculture season. Dietary diversity has fallen since November, and on average 41 percent of households have an “inadequate” food consumption score. Based on a rapid mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) survey, global acute malnutrition (GAM) prevalence is Critical in Tete and in Sofala Provinces (greater than 15 percent). FEWS NET participated in Tete Province, and the most vulnerable households with low or no income were resorting to wild foods at a higher frequency and for more prolonged use.

    Based on the assessment results, SETSAN recommended prioritizing the provision of food assistance in areas with acute food insecurity needs since last year, which include the southern provinces of Gaza and Inhambane and parts of the central provinces of Sofala, Manica and Tete. SETSAN also recommended providing seeds for short-cycle crops for areas receiving late rainfall, and prioritizing nutritional rehabilitation interventions for Tete, Sofala, Manica, and Inhambane Provinces. By the end of March, more than 300,000 beneficiaries had received some type of humanitarian assistance from the Government of Mozambique (GoM) and partners from the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), up from the 176,000 SETSAN had originally estimated would be in need from November 2015 to March 2016. On April 12, the GoM declared a 90-day institutional “red alert” due to the drought in the south and central regions of the country. This decision was taken to intensify and expand the current response and mobilize additional resources with cooperating partners. As of April 1, funded assistance by the HCT covered less than 20 percent of needs for the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Under the alert, the GoM will release approximately USD 10 million (based on USD 1.00 to MZN 50.00 exchange rate) of funds provided under the GoM’s 2015/16 food insecurity contingency plan. The alert also aimed to ensure an effective coordination of the actions of the various humanitarian assistance agencies.

    Generally, food access and availability will continue to be limited after the April and May harvest due to near total crop failure in many areas of the south and the imminent poor harvest in parts of the central region. In addition, the below-average labor availability, as well as the very high food prices, will further constrain food access and purchasing power, especially for the poorest households as they increasingly rely on market purchases. In March, the average price for maize grain in major markets monitored was 143 percent above the five-year average. Prices of some major substitute staples, maize meal and rice, were up compared to the five-year average in markets monitored, by 62 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

    The combination of drought impacts and ongoing political and military tensions in central Mozambique have already forced households to abandon their villages in search of more secure areas, adversely impacting normal livelihoods. According to UNHCR, as of April 15, there were nearly 10,000 Mozambicans registered as asylum seekers in Malawi after fleeing violence in Mozambique. The numbers peaked at more than 250 arrivals per day in early March but have since slowed.  

    Preparations are underway for the completion of an IPC Acute Analysis in Mozambique from May 9-13, 2016, with support from the IPC Global Support Unit. This is part of other regional IPC activities that are taking place across the Southern Africa region. The outcomes of this exercise will help to provide additional information on the severity of the acute food insecurity based on updated available data. The IPC analysis will be coordinated by SETSAN with participation from key partners including WFP, FAO, FEWS NET, Save the Children, World Vision International, OXFAM, CONCERN and others.


    Most of the assumptions used to develop the most likely scenario for the February to September 2016 Food Security Outlook remain valid. The exception is the anticipated impacts of the drought on the central region are worse than previously assumed.


    April to May: During this period, the majority of households will be able to harvest and rely on their own production for food, and many areas will be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1), particularly in the northern region. The rural households, who will be able to harvest, will be accessing food by consuming the newly harvested crops from the 2015/16 main season and through market purchases. However, in much of the south, especially in parts of the Southern Semiarid Cereals and Cattle Livelihood Zone and parts of the central region, including much of Sofala Province, northern and southern Manica Province and central and southern Tete Province, FEWS NET estimates about 755,000 very poor and poor people will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) because they cannot meet their minimum food needs and will be facing livelihood protection deficits. In the absence of humanitarian assistance, the majority of these people will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and in urgent need of food assistance while approximately 740,000 other people will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), requiring humanitarian assistance to protect their basic livelihoods.

    June to September: Food stocks from the productive areas of the northern region will start dwindling earlier than usual due to atypically high demand for food from the drought-affected areas in the central and southern regions. Food prices will remain above average and access to food by the poorest households from the central and southern regions will be constrained as most will be heavily relying on market purchases. While the majority of the northern region and parts of the central region will be facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes, the poorest households from the drought affected areas in the central and southern regions will continue facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes and will be in need of humanitarian assistance. In August and September, the harvest from second season production typically becomes available. However, it is expected that due to the ongoing dryness, conditions for second season crop production will be poor, with very limited harvests, especially in light of ongoing seed deficits. Acute food security outcomes are likely to further deteriorate seasonally after the outlook period and the overall number of people in need of food assistance is likely to increase until the staple harvests in 2017. The May IPC acute analysis will update this classification with results expected to be included in the May and June FEWS NET reporting. 

    Figures Mozambique Seasonal Calendar

    Figure 1

    Mozambique Seasonal Calendar

    Source: FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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