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Emergency assistance needs are anticipated to be atypically high through 2019/20 lean season

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mozambique
  • April 2019
Emergency assistance needs are anticipated to be atypically high through 2019/20 lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present in many areas affected by tropical cyclone Idai and associated flooding and in Gaza, Inhambane, and Maputo provinces as a result of the poor performance of the 2018/19 rainy season. In these areas, poor households have lost or exhausted food stocks and face food consumption gaps or are employing crisis level coping strategies. However, humanitarian assistance is mitigating outcomes in some central areas and Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are present.

    • In Southern areas even with the harvest, improvement in food security outcomes is not likely due to the significantly below average harvest and very poor conditions for second season cropping. In flood affected areas, improvement is likely for households who planted in the second season. From June to September, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are anticipated to be more widespread in both drought and flood affected areas. These households are expected to have difficultly accessing their basic food needs.

    • Category 4 tropical cyclone, Kenneth, made landfall on April 25 over Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique. This was followed by persistent heavy rainfall for at least 5 days. As of April 30, severe flooding resulted in 38 deaths; and impacted the ongoing harvest. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes were previously anticipated although the current and projected outcomes are likely to be worse as a result of tropical cyclone Kenneth. Food security impacts of cyclone Kenneth will be updated in May’s Key Message Update.

    • Maize grain prices increased at a faster rate than previously anticipated as a result of the multiple shocks affecting market access and the 2018/19 agriculture season. This trend is expected to slow down in May/June as market supply increases with the harvest and market access improves. Prices throughout the projection period are expected to remain above the five-year average.


    The 2018/19 rainy season was marked by a delayed start of season, below average rainfall, early cessation of rains, and heavy late season rainfall and flooding associated with Tropical Cyclones Desmond, Idai, and Kenneth. In most of the south, rainfall was delayed and erratic resulting in a reduction of area planted as well as poor germination, crop establishment, and multiple planting attempts. Additionally, mid-season dryness resulted in poor cropping conditions along with permanent wilting and crop failure in localized areas.

    In late February, tropical storm Desmond, brought heavy rains causing localized flooding and strong winds in areas around Beira and Dondo cities; while heavy rains caused localized flooding in parts of Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Tete, and Niassa provinces. Heavy rainfall associated with intense tropical cyclone Idai resulted in widespread flooding in Sofala and parts of Manica and Zambezia provinces affecting an estimated 1.85 million people, according to the UN; with slightly over 600 confirmed fatalities and 1,600 injuries according to the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC). Over 75,000 people are currently residing in 67 accommodation centers; the latest information indicates some people have started returning to their place of origin and accommodation centers are closing. Due to the limited access to safe and clean water and sanitation facilities and large populations in accommodation centers the number of cases of malaria, cholera, and diarrheal disease proliferated. Although due to a massive vaccination campaign and ongoing efforts by humanitarian partners the rate of infection specifically for cholera decreased according to UNHCR in mid-April.

    Six weeks after tropical cyclone Idai hit central Mozambique, another intense tropical cyclone, Kenneth, made landfall in northern Mozambique on April 25 with torrential rainfall and winds sustaining over 200 km/hr. As of April 30, according to the INGC, preliminary estimates indicate more than 169,000 people have been affected, from which more than 37,500 are displaced, residing in accommodation centers; although these figures are likely to increase as assessments are carried out.  

    Households typically begin the harvest at this time of year; however, in the central and southern regions the harvest is not available in many areas due to flooding or abnormal dryness. Estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) before tropical cyclone Kenneth, indicated 813,000 hectares of cropping land was destroyed, representing a 13 percent loss of area planted nationwide. The most significant crop destruction was in Sofala and Manica provinces; representing 50 percent of the total crop loss. MASA estimates a loss of 792,000 MT of maize grain nationwide, representing a 32 percent loss in maize grain compared to the two-year average. However, with the ongoing efforts on post-flood planting (second season), the maize grain deficit may decrease. MASA estimates the death of about 115 cattle, 1,100 small ruminants, and more than 22,000 chickens due to flooding in central areas. It is important to note these estimates do not include crop losses associated with tropical cyclone Kenneth.  

    Second season planting typically starts in late April/early May; however, in semiarid areas of the southern region, second season planting is limited or non-existent due to significantly below average soil moisture. Post flood planting in previously flood areas is still possible; although, the window for planting maize grain is closing. Current estimates indicate about 25 percent of affected households in central areas planted short cycle maize grain seeds.

    In semiarid areas, poor households with limited or no food stocks are increasingly engaging in self-employment activities, although income from these activities is significantly below average. The few households who still possess livestock, reported occasionally selling them for food. Poor households unable to engage in self-employment activities with very limited incomes are reducing the quantity and frequency of meals, withdrawing children from school, and/or migrating. In flood and cyclone affected areas, household who lost their homes, livestock and livelihoods, these households have limited options to access foods continue to rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic food needs.

    Market supply and access are slowly returning to normal as access to areas affected by tropical cyclone Idai continues to improve and supplies begin to flow at near normal levels. Maize grain prices atypically increased in February to March in nearly all monitored markets. In almost all monitored markets, March maize grain prices remained 74 percent above last year’s prices at the same time on average and 22 percent above the five-year average.

    According to the Food Security Cluster (FSC), food assistance reached nearly 1.2 million people during the first round of distribution in late March/early April to areas affected by tropical cyclone Idai. The second cycle of food assistance distribution is planned for 1.3 million beneficiaries; covering the same 1.2 million beneficiaries and an additional 100,000 beneficiaries, with almost half of the targeted population reached at the end of April. Most of the food distribution is focused on Sofala province.

    Seed distribution is also ongoing, complimented by food distribution, whenever possible, to prevent households from consuming seeds. Most of distributed kits contain seeds for maize grain, beans, and horticulture crops. Seed distribution will continue as more seeds become available from various humanitarian partners.

    Many poor households have lost food stocks, including crops in the field that were already at the mature stage and ready for harvest. Many houses have been totally or partially destroyed including the loss of productive and household assets. Humanitarian assistance is mitigating more severe outcomes with Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) present in low-lying areas significantly affected by flooding and winds associated with Tropical Cyclone Idai in the center region and southern semiarid areas where poor households are expected to have a limited harvest this year. These households require not only food assistance but also livelihood support. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present in less affected central areas, where

    households have access to the harvest, although significantly below average. Some flood affected households are picking available flooded crops for drying and consumption, however these crops are improper for consumption as they are likely spoiled.

    In conflict affected areas of Cabo Delgado, government sources indicate many displaced households returned to their villages in April, as the government in coordination with WFP, provides humanitarian assistance to returnees. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes were previously anticipated during April as some households have restricted access to the harvest and incomes. Current food security outcomes are expected to be the same or worse than previously anticipated in areas affected by Cyclone Kenneth; the analysis will be updated in FEWS NET’s May Key Message Update.


    The assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the Mozambique February to September 2019 Food Security Outlook, remain unchanged except for the following:  

    • The national maize grain harvest is anticipated to be below average and will not likely meet the national consumption needs for the 2019/20 consumption year, as a result maize grain imports are likely to be above average.
    • In areas affected by flooding as a result of tropical cyclone Idai, nearly 50 percent of households are anticipated to plant short-cycle seeds and start accessing the harvest in July/August, with the green harvest most likely available in June. However, in semiarid southern areas, planting for the second season is unlikely to occur.
    • Maize grain prices are anticipated to remain above average across the country although are anticipated to slightly decrease in June as result of second season harvest. This year’s prices are most likely to remain below the 2015/16 price level when the country faced the severe El Niño drought (Figure 1).
    • Livestock prices will likely continue to decrease to below average levels in southern areas as more households are likely to sell their livestock to purchase food. In flood affected areas, livestock prices are likely to remain near average, as households are most likely to sell them for food, although demand will be below average due to low circulation of the currency. In the rest of the country, livestock prices will remain same as average.
    • Through September, agriculture labor and self-employment opportunities are anticipated to be limited given the widespread disruption of livelihoods; including middle and better-off households, who are likely to have limited payment power.
    • Distribution of the second cycle of humanitarian food assistance is most likely to be completed in mid-May in areas affected by tropical cyclone Idai.
    • Under the Umbeluzi hydrographic basin sharing agreement, the kingdom of eSwatini began releasing water, which is anticipated to raise water levels in the Pequenos Libombos dam in Mozambique to nearly 34 percent of its full capacity. This will significantly improve water supply to the three major cities in Maputo Province namely Maputo, Matola, and Boane.


    Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are most likely in low lying areas severely affected by tropical cyclone Idai and associated flooding as many households will not have access to a harvest this year, limited incomes, and continue to rebuild their livelihoods. In areas that were less affected by flooding as a result of tropical cyclone Idai, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely as these households have access to a harvest, despite being below average. Poor households in southern semiarid areas will most likely not be able to meet their minimum food needs. These poor households are anticipated to continue their reliance on crisis level coping strategies including reducing the frequency and quantity of meals, relying on less expensive foods, borrowing food from relatives or better off households, and consuming less preferred and non-recommended wild foods in excess. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to continue in semiarid areas of Gaza and Inhambane provinces. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will prevail in less affected areas.

    In Cabo Delgado, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes were previously projected to continue in some coastal areas, prior to tropical cyclone Kenneth. However, as a result of tropical cyclone Kenneth, projected food security outcomes are expected to be the same or worse than previously anticipated in affected areas. The analysis in for areas affected by tropical cyclone Kenneth will be updated in FEWS NET’s May Key Messages Update.

    Figures In the north, land preparation is from September to November. Planting is from November to February. The rain and cyclone sea

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET Estimates based on MASA/SIMA data

    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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