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Rapid exhaustion of food stocks and abnormally high food prices increase food insecurity

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mozambique
  • August 2016
Rapid exhaustion of food stocks and abnormally high food prices increase food insecurity

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Apart from the North, where the majority of poor households remain in  None (IPC Phase 1), acute food insecurity outcomes have largely worsened since June. In most of the South and parts of the central region, there are larger numbers of poor households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. In addition, a small proportion of households in these areas, especially in the conflict-affected areas in the central region, are likely facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4), due to large food consumption gaps and/or the extreme loss of livelihood assets.

    • Second season production, which usually peaks in August, is well below average in both the South and central areas due to reduced residual moisture. The poor second season production is contributing to even lower food availability and income from agricultural labor. As a result, more and more households are forced to engage in unsustainable self-employment activities, such as charcoal sales, leading to increasing competition and a rapid degradation of forest resources.

    • Staple food prices remain extremely high, further constraining household purchasing power. In July, maize grain prices continued to rise, but the increase was not as large as it was in June. On average, from June to July, maize grain prices increased by 11 percent, while substitutes, such as maize meal and rice, remained stable.


    August falls within the dry season in Mozambique where temperatures are relatively low, and there is no or minimal rainfall. Typically, during this period, some households in the southern and central regions are engaged in second season harvesting of vegetables in lowland areas that received residual moisture or where irrigation is applicable. However, this year, due to severe dryness during the main agricultural and rainfall season (October 2015 to April 2016), the residual moisture was largely not sufficient to support second season crop development in most areas of these regions. The lack of food from the second season harvest is exacerbating food insecurity due to overall lower food availability and contributing to staple food price increases.

    Due to the poor main season production in most central areas and crop failure in the South, the majority of the poorest households have harvested very little or nothing and are now forced to increase engagement in self-employment activities to earn extra money to purchase food, while also reducing their non-food expenditures. These self-employment activities include the collection and sale of natural products, such as grass, building poles, cane/reeds; the production and sale of charcoal; the gathering and sale of firewood; brewing; thatching; and handcrafting. However, the availability and quality of products, such as grass and reeds, are also reduced by the drought effect. The production of traditional drinks is also affected by a lack of availability of small grains, such as millet and sorghum, required in the process. Also, with more and more people engaged in self-employment activities, opportunities to sell are reduced, limiting incomes. The purchasing power from potential buyers, usually middle and better-off households, is also limited as most were also directly affected by the drought. Collection and consumption of wild foods is increasing to atypical levels, though the availability is well below average due to the drought.

    In addition to the lower income earned by all wealth groups, staple food prices have been atypically increasing to historical highs. The combination of high demand, low supply and high inflation rates are negatively impacting the staple food prices by pushing prices well above the five-year average. Adding to this, there is either significantly lower or no circulation of food stocks from the surplus areas to deficit areas due to the insecurity caused by the political-military conflict in the central areas. On many of the main highways that link the country, requirements for armed convoys are adding to transportation costs, and conflict is significantly hampering flows of goods and people.

    As households remain market dependent, high staple food prices are affecting purchasing power and limiting food access. In July, in major markets that FEWS NET monitors, maize grain, maize meal, and rice prices generally increased but at a lower rate compared with the previous month. On average, from June to July, maize grain prices increased by 11 percent against the 14 percent rise the previous month. The highest increase was recorded in Beira (24 percent). The largest change from the five-year average was also recorded in Beira where the July maize grain price was 228 percent higher. Overall, maize grain prices remain well above the five-year average by 177 percent on average and above last year’s prices by 136 percent on average. Maize meal prices have largely continued on a stable trend. In major markets monitored, maize meal prices remain above the five-year average by 79 percent on average. Rice prices have also remained stable with the highest increase recorded in Pemba (11 percent). July rice prices were on average about 70 percent above the five-year average and 66 percent above the prices for the same period last year. The highest change from the five-year average was recorded in Gorongosa where the July rice price was 102 percent higher.

    According to a summary by the National Center of Emergency Operations (CENOE) from the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC), with the existing resources from various donors, including the World Bank, the Development African Bank, the People’s Republic of China, and others, the Government of Mozambique and the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) will be able to provide food assistance to a cumulative total of about 1.4 million people during the next three months, September to November 2016. As part of this overall assistance, WFP, with its available resources, estimates it will be able to provide food assistance for approximately 490,000 people from August 2016 to January 2017 in Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Manica, Sofala, Tete, and Zambezia provinces, while COSACA, a Consortium of NGOs composed of Concern, Oxfam, Save the Children, and CARE, has secured funds to cover nearly 190,000 people through voucher for food modalities from September to December 2016 in Gaza, Inhambane, Manica, Sofala, and Zambezia provinces. Other organizations providing assistance include World Vision International, Food for the Hungry, German Agrarian Action (AAA), and the Red Cross (CVM), which will cover nearly 80,000 people. FAO is actively involved in providing assistance on agricultural and livestock inputs, which will be key for the agricultural season set to begin in October, while UNICEF, in coordination with the Ministry of Health, is supporting efforts by the Government of Mozambique to supplement nutritional-enriched food for acutely malnourished children. However, as of July 30, UNICEF’s appeal for Mozambique remained only 26 percent funded.


    The assumptions used to develop the most likely scenario for the June 2016 to January 2017 Food Security Outlook remain valid. 


    In August and September, countrywide, the majority of households, especially in the North, will be able to satisfy their basic food needs by consuming food from their own household stocks, complemented by food purchases from the markets. These households will face None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes. However, large parts of the southern and central regions are already experiencing the effects of the lean season two months earlier as most households have exhausted their food stocks and are relying on market purchases with higher prices and significantly reduced incomes. In these areas, the number of poor households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) has grown as more households who were previously in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) are rapidly depleting their livelihood assets to meet their minimum food needs. Other poor households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) are facing growing food consumption gaps. A small proportion of households (less than 20 percent) are facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4), particularly in the areas that are most-affected by the political-military conflict in the central region and are in urgent need of food assistance in areas that are not easily accessible.

    From October to January 2017, during the typical lean season period in Mozambique, food insecurity outcomes in southern and central areas will increase as wild foods may be the only available food source for many poor households due to low supplies on the market, low incomes, and expected high staple food prices. Land preparation will actively begin during this period, followed by planting once the rainfall begins. Given that most households have faced two consecutive bad years characterized by moderate to severe dryness, poor households will have a high need for seeds and other agricultural inputs to allow for sufficient planting, especially given the  prospects of normal to above-normal rainfall linked to La Niña. In these areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will continue as poor and very poor households will still be facing food consumption gaps even as they will be expanding their livelihood and coping strategies to help cover these gaps. It is possible that the number of worst-affected households, who will experience larger gaps in their basic food needs and who will be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), will increase compared to the previous period. In non-affected drought areas of the country, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected to continue during this period.


    Figure 1


    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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