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In March, the second landing of Cyclone Freddy in Zambezia, Sofala, and Tete resulted in flooding and high winds, damaging the upcoming harvest and destroying infrastructure. In these areas a likely poor harvest and the loss of livelihood assets, along with high staple food prices and limited income-earning opportunities are expected to result in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the most affected areas. In less flood and cyclone affected areas of southern and central Mozambique Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely. In Cabo Delgado, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist in conflict affected areas, while the regular distribution of humanitarian food assistance (HFA) is maintaining Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes.
In late March, humanitarian partners scaled up humanitarian assistance to cyclone and flood affected households, reaching more than 385,000 people by April 17, 2023, around 47 percent of the targeted population. Humanitarian partners are reporting that there are critical humanitarian supplies shortages and that the response capacity is limited. Humanitarian partners are seeking to provide assistance to 815,000 people affected by cyclone Freddy, cholera, and flooding, with interventions in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), health, education, food security and livelihoods remaining critical priorities. In Sofala, Tete, and Inhambane provinces, humanitarian access to some districts continues to be difficult due to logistical constraints following damage to bridges and poor road conditions.
Across Mozambique, crops are in the maturation and harvesting stages, with the consumption of green foods already taking place in the north. National production is expected to be close to the five-year average but may be lower than last year due to reduced crop yields and crop losses following multiple climatic shocks in 2023. However, flood-affected and low-lying areas have the potential for good vegetable production during the second season following the planned and ongoing distribution of vegetable seeds by the government and humanitarian partners.
Maize grain prices increased significantly from February to March in provinces most affected by natural disasters. In March 2023, maize grain prices increased by 39 and 47 percent in the Nampula market and Mutarara market (Tete Province), respectively. In the Mocuba market (Zambézia province), which was severely affected by tropical cyclone Freddy, the price of maize grain remains abnormally high since November 2022. Compared to last year and the five-year average, maize grain prices more than doubled in the markets of Nampula, Mutarara, and Mocuba. Relatedly, headline inflation rose to 10.8 percent in March, with food and non-alcoholic beverages contributing the most to the high annual inflation rate. Food inflation rose to 18.2 percent in March, up from 16.7 percent in February.
Across Mozambique, area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes persist, driven by the impact of multiple climatic shocks during the 2022/2023 season and the conflict in Cabo Delgado. In southern and central Mozambique, the upcoming harvest is likely to be impacted by the impact of a prolonged dry spell and high temperatures in January, flooding in February, and strong winds and flooding associated with the double landfall of tropical storm Freddy in February and March. The provinces most acutely affected include Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala, and Zambézia (Figure 1). As of March 28, 2023, preliminary assessments by the National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction (INGD) indicated that more than 390,000 hectares of different crops were affected by flooding across Mozambique, of which more than 134,600 hectares are considered lost.
Source: WFP ADAM 2023
April typically marks the tail end of cyclone activity in the southern Indian Ocean and the rainy season. Households affected by flooding in January and cyclone Freddy in February and March are being targeted by humanitarian partners for assistance in their recovery. According to OCHA, humanitarian partners reached around 47 percent of the targeted population, providing assistance to more than 385,000 people as of April 17, 2023. Relatedly, WFP and other humanitarian partners are providing humanitarian food assistance at accommodation centers and to people returning to their homes from the centers, while targeted households who remained in their communities are receiving cash vouchers that can be redeemed for maize meals, beans, vegetable oil, and salt. WFP’s emergency response includes a seven-day ration and cash vouchers for people taking refuge in accommodation centers and a 30-day cash voucher equivalent to around 75 percent of kilocalorie requirements to around 118,000 people returning to their communities, along with some targeted beneficiaries that continue to reside in their communities. However, humanitarian partners are reporting access constraints due to damaged roads and bridges in most of the provinces affected by Cyclone Freddy, but with the seasonal end of the rainy season, the situation is slowly improving as the flood waters recede. Nevertheless, there are reports of critical humanitarian supply shortages and limited response capacity for humanitarian and early recovery interventions. To improve the emergency response capacity, humanitarian partners are seeking an additional 138 million USD to assist 815,000 people affected by cyclone Freddy, cholera, and flooding, particularly in the sectors of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, education, and food security and livelihoods through interventions including food, seeds, shelters, and relocation kits/tools.
In order to boost the second season and post-flood production in areas affected by Cyclone Freddy and floods in the central and southern areas, the government, along with various partners, are reportedly distributing equipment and agricultural inputs to flood and cyclone-affected households in the provinces of Zambézia, Inhambane, and Maputo. The seeds delivered include short-cycle maize, pumpkin, okra, cabbage, and onion, with tubers and potato vine seeds potentially delivered at a later date. The government has begun the process of distributing equipment and 30,000 agricultural input kits to farmers in Zambézia Province, 12,000 agricultural input kits to farmers in Boane district, Maputo province, while 13,000 agricultural input kits were delivered to flood-affected households in Inhambane province. Other support initiatives are also ongoing across the country through various local government partners. Access to agricultural inputs will help households recover some of their lost harvest and improve food access, particularly vegetables, and in areas with access to irrigation, short-cycle cereals.
Cabo Delgado: In Cabo Delgado, the number of households returning to their areas of origin has been increasing, especially in the districts of Palma and Mocímboa da Praia. However, there are reports that households returning to their homes have limited access to income-earning opportunities from agriculture and fishing. Most people returning to their home areas are living in host communities. Available data from the IOM's Tracking Matrix indicates that around 75 percent of people who were registered as being on the move from March 29 to April 18, 2023, had the intention of returning to their areas of origin, with around 13 percent intending to reunite with their families. Additionally, March 2023 marked the first time that IOM data did not record any people being on the move due to attacks. However, around 480 people were reported being on the move due to attacks the week of April 12-18, 2023. The improvement in the security situation is allowing more people to return to their home areas and resume their basic livelihood activities. However, many households are expected to remain reliant on humanitarian assistance as they resettle and recover their typical livelihood activities after prolonged displacement.
In Cabo Delgado, most households are already accessing the green harvest from their own agricultural production, except in IDP centers where households remain mostly reliant on food assistance. Most households in Cabo Delgado continue to consume maize and cassava flour, vegetables, and beans. The 2023 harvest is also expected to be higher than the past three years due to increased security and the return of more displaced people to their areas of origin, and an increase in the number of families involved in agricultural activities. However, an erratic start to the rainy season only allowed most households to plant successfully at the end of December 2022 and in January 2023, with most of the harvest likely in May and June.
Cholera: The number of new cholera cases registered per day reduced significantly from March to April after peaking in late March (Figure 2). From September 2022 to April 19, 2023, Mozambique has cumulatively registered around 27,350 cases of cholera and 124 deaths. According to data from the Ministry of Health (MISAU), cholera was registered in all provinces, including Maputo city, but not in Maputo province. Zambézia province is the most affected area, with about 45 percent of the total number of registered cases. The rapid increase in cholera cases in March, particularly in Zambézia province, is likely related to the impacts of Cyclone Freddy, which destroyed infrastructure such as water supply systems and led to the contamination of water sources such as wells and small streams in suburban neighborhoods. According to the health authorities, the current situation is considered stable. Additionally, the Ministry of Health reported that the vaccination campaigns were completed, vaccinating around 1.2 million people as of April 17, 2023. However, resettlement areas and accommodation centers that remain open remain at high risk of further spreading cholera due to water shortages, poor hygiene practices, and the presence of a mobile displaced population.
Source: FEWS NET using data from the Ministry of Health
2023 harvest: Satellite-derived remote-sensing data and field information indicate that most crops for the 2022/2023 agricultural season are already in the maturation and harvesting stages across Mozambique (Figure 3). The harvest is ongoing in the south and parts of central Mozambique, while the consumption of green foods is already taking place in the north. In areas affected by shocks such as prolonged dry spells or flooding over the season, the harvest is anticipated to be below average due to crop loss. In these areas, households with access to short-cycle crop seeds are likely to be able to engage in post-flood or second-season planting, which will help reduce household food deficits. Overall, the national harvest is expected to be below last year but similar to above the five-year average, particularly in the higher production areas, including the highlands of Tete, Sofala, Manica, and Zambézia, and much of Niassa, Nampula, and Cabo Delgado.
Source: FEWS NET
Maize prices: Maize grain prices increased significantly in March in provinces most affected by natural disasters reducing the purchasing power of most poor affected households, especially at a time when many are more dependent on food purchases from local markets. From February to March 2023, maize grain prices increased by 39 and 47 percent in the Nampula market (Nampula province) and Mutarara market (Tete province), respectively, being sold at around 35 MZN per kilogram (~0.55 USD/kg). In the Mocuba market (Zambézia province), which was severely affected by tropical cyclone Freddy, maize grain prices increased by 6 percent but have remained abnormally high since November 2022 and are being sold at around 28 MZN/kg (~44 USD/kg). In all other markets, maize grain prices remained similar, increased, or decreased from February to March. Compared to last year, maize grain prices more than doubled in Nampula, Mutarara, and Mocuba markets. The high maize prices are likely being driven by supply disruptions following the impact of tropical cyclone Ana and Gombe on the 2022 harvest and flooding and damage from cyclone Freddy in 2023. In all other markets, maize grain is being sold at around 21 to 29 MZN/kg (~0.33 to 0.45 USD/kg) in March, a mixed trend compared to last year. These maize prices range from 7 to 52 percent below prices in 2022 in Massinga, Montepuez, and Lichinga markets and 10 to 12 percent above prices last year in Maputo and Chókwe markets. Compared to the five-year average, maize grain prices have at least doubled in Nampula, Mutarara, and Mocuba markets but are 7 to almost 40 percent below the five-year average in Montepuez, Massinga and Lichinga markets and similar to the five-year average in Maputo and Chókwe markets.
Rice and maize meal prices: Rice prices remained relatively stable from February to March 2023 in all monitored markets, retailing from 45 MZN/kg in the Quelimane market to around 72 MZN in the Mutarara market. In March 2023, rice prices were 9 to 32 percent higher than prices last year in Inhambane, Massinga, Nampula, Montepuez, and Lichinga markets and were stable in all other markets. However, rice prices were 15 to 39 percent above the five-year average in all monitored markets, except in Chókwe, where prices were similar to the five-year average.
Maize meal prices in March rose by 13 to 27 percent in Nampula, Massinga, Inhambane, and Lichinga and remained stable in Maputo, Xai-Xai, Mocuba, and Montepuez, retailing at around 43 to 85 MZN/kg. The mills in Nampula city, where the largest mills in the northern zone are located, are reporting that the increase in maize meal prices is due to the low availability of maize grain following production shortfalls in recent years due to the impacts of climate shocks including cyclones and floods. Maize meal prices in March 2023 were 19 to 40 percent above prices in March 2022 in Massinga, Mocuba, Chókwe, Nampula, and Inhambane, and double the price compared to last year in Mutarara market while remaining stable in all other markets. Maize meal prices in March 2023 were 7 to 73 percent above the five-year average in all monitored markets, except in Montepuez, where maize meal prices remained stable.
Inflation: Headline inflation (non-seasonally adjusted) rose to 10.8 percent year-on-year in March, the second consecutive increase following the decline in annual inflation recorded from September 2022 to January 2023 (Figure 4). On a monthly basis, the consumer price index (CPI) increased by 1.3 percent in March. The biggest contributors to the monthly inflation rate were food and non-alcoholic beverages and transport. Mozambique’s National Institute of Statistics (INE) attributes price increases in lettuce, cowpeas, maize grain, cabbage, semi-collective urban passenger transport, tomatoes, and butter beans as contributing the most to overall inflation. Considering inflation at a regional level (measured across eight city centers), Inhambane city – which was one of the cities most affected by Cyclone Freddy – recorded the highest regional inflation rate of 15.3 percent year-on-year in March. The rise in inflation in March can, in part, be attributed to the impacts of the floods in the southern region and Cyclone Freddy in the central region of the country. The floods that affected the province and city of Maputo severely affected the low-lying vegetable-producing areas, which resulted in a reduction in the horticultural supply level in the southern zone and, consequently, an increase in horticultural prices. Overall, the high prices are limiting household purchasing power, particularly in urban and peri-urban areas and in areas affected by shocks (floods and cyclones) where households are reliant on market purchases for food. In more rural areas, the start of the 2023 harvest is likely to reduce market dependency for food purchases, but high prices for non-food needs are likely to limit household access.
Source: FEWS NET using National Institute of Statistics (INE) data
Source: FEWS NET
The assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the Mozambique Food Security Outlook for February to September 2023 remain unchanged, except for the following:
- Maize grain prices are expected to begin declining as the incoming harvest begins to reach local markets in April. However, increased demand, particularly in areas where the harvest was impacted by flooding or dry spells, will likely keep prices high.
- Second-season production is expected to be above average in much of the country due to above-average residual moisture and post-flood planting.
- An increase in global crude oil prices is likely to drive increases in fuel and transportation costs in Mozambique. Increasing transportation costs are likely to result in higher prices for food and goods, reducing household purchasing power, particularly urban poor households, and households recovering from weather shocks.
In April and May, most poor households in Mozambique will be facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, supported by access to food from their own production, household food reserves, and a gradual decline of market purchases for food. However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely across most of southern Mozambique and parts of the central region following the impact of prolonged dry spells and flooding, and heavy winds from cyclone Freddy on the upcoming harvest. The multiple climatic shocks are likely to result in a below-average harvest that will keep households atypically dependent on market food purchases during the post-harvest period. Further assessments by government and humanitarian partners indicate that crop damage, the loss of livelihood assets, and high food prices are likely to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the districts of Búzi, Caia, Mutarara, Maganja da Costa, Mopeia, and Namacurra. However, the timely availability of seeds for households affected by the floods will allow households to recover a harvest in the post-flood and second-season period, particularly vegetables and short-cycle cereals. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will also prevail in areas most affected by Tropical Storms Ana and Tropical Cyclone Gombe last year as poor households slowly recover typical income-earning activities and food access. In conflict-affected areas in Cabo Delgado, ongoing insecurity, damage to infrastructure, limited access to income-earning opportunities from agricultural or casual labor, and limited access to humanitarian assistance will likely keep areas more directly impacted by conflict in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. However, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are expected in areas where at least 25 percent of households are receiving at least 25 percent of their kilocalories through humanitarian food assistance (HFA).
From June to September 2023, most poor households will continue accessing food from their production and face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. In the flood and cyclone-affected areas of southern and central regions, households with access to seeds are likely to be reliant on second-season and post-flood production to minimize food consumption gaps. These households are expected to recover some of their harvest, mostly vegetables, which could help stabilize food access but limited access to income and high food prices will keep at least one in five households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Furthermore, in the semi-arid zones of the south, where poor households are unable to engage in post-flood production, and the second season, poor households will likely intensify their engagement in income-earning opportunities and typical coping strategies such as selling livestock, producing and selling charcoal/firewood and traditional beverages, and collecting and selling forest products (straw, construction stakes, reed) and consuming wild foods to minimize food gaps as their food stocks diminish and households increasingly become dependent on market purchases for food. However, the worst affected households are expected to engage in additional coping strategies to minimize food consumption gaps, such as reducing spending on non-food items, skipping meals, reducing meal sizes, consuming less preferred food varieties, and increasing the consumption of wild foods. As the dry season continues and food stocks decline, market prices are likely to increase seasonally due to increased demand. The high prices will continue limiting household purchasing power, and poor households are likely to increasingly apply more severe coping strategies such as withdrawing children from school unless meals are provided at school, or sending household members to eat elsewhere, driving the emergence of area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes before the start of the typical lean season in October/November.
Recommended Citation: FEWS NET. Mozambique Food Security Outlook Update, April 2023: Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes to persist in conflict and weather-shocked areas, 2023.
This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.