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Poor households in Chemba District are likely facing Crisis outcomes

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mozambique
  • December 2017
Poor households in Chemba District are likely facing Crisis outcomes

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  • Key Messages
  • CURRENT SITUATION
  • UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS
  • PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH MAY 2018
  • Key Messages
    • Despite the peak of the lean season, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to persist countrywide, except in the interior and remote areas of Chemba District in Sofala Province where poor households are likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In nearby districts of Mutarara, Doa, and Moatize in Tete Province, Caia in Sofala Province, and Tambara in Manica Province, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely to continue until the April harvest.

    • The onset of rains was delayed across most of the south and in parts of the central region, particularly in Zambézia Province and northern portions of Sofala and Manica provinces, and planting has just started in these areas. On the contrary, in much of the north and the rest of the central region, the rains started on time or earlier than expected, leading to planted crops ranging from emergence in the north to vegetative stages in the central region. 

    • Staple food prices, particularly maize grain, are following an atypical trend for this time of the year, facilitating greater household food access. In most monitored markets in the central and northern regions, maize grain prices have been atypically decreasing or remaining stable. From October to November, maize grain prices only marginally increased in two markets. A recent FEWS NET market assessment has confirmed above-average maize grain availability and abnormally low prices.


    CURRENT SITUATION

    Currently, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes persist countrywide, except in Chemba District in northwest Sofala Province. Poor households, particularly in the interior and remote semiarid portions of the District, are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes due to dry spells that affected 2016/17 main season production and the unprecedented mice infestation that led to a below-average second season. These poor households have limited opportunities for self-employment to earn income as they cannot easily access the Zambezi River for fishing or the major road to sell their products. Poor households, who still have livestock, are resorting to distressed sales for needed cash for food purchases, while others are consuming wild foods at above-average levels.

    Besides in Chemba, there are other poor households in other districts facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) though in less proportion (less than 20 percent of the total district population), with the highest concentration in the districts facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, including in parts of nearby districts of Mutarara, Doa, and Moatize in Tete Province, Caia in Sofala Province, and Tambara in Manica Province. Based on findings from a recent market assessment carried out in late November, FEWS NET has revised the classification of Changara in Tete and Guro in Manica from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Minimal (IPC Phase 1). Access to food from local markets is much better than previously anticipated due to the above-average availability of maize grain and other staple food commodities at below-normal prices, which is facilitating food access.

    Food availability and access: Despite it being the lean season (December to March), there is a stable supply of food across most of the country due to the above-average 2016/17 crop production, and food access from local markets for poor households is favorable given the average to below-average staple food prices. Local markets are adequately supplied with locally produced food commodities, such as cereals (mainly maize grain), locally produced legumes from local lowlands areas, various leaves (pumpkin, cabbage, sweet potato), and other food commodities, such as fresh and dry cassava, sweet potatoes, and a number of processed products (sugar, cooking oil, maize meal, rice, etc.). Staple food prices, particularly maize grain, are following an atypical trend for this time of the year. In most monitored markets in the central and northern regions, maize grain prices have been atypically decreasing or consistently remaining stable. From October to November, maize grain prices have only increased above the five-year average in two markets (Chókwe in Gaza and Mocuba in Zambézia), where maize grain prices increased by less than 10 percent. On average, November’s maize grain prices were 24 percent below the five-year average and 60 percent below last year’s prices.

    Seasonal progress: The onset of the rains was delayed until mid to late November across most of the south and in parts of the central region, particularly in much of Zambézia Province and northern Sofala and Manica provinces; however, this has not affected typical agricultural labor opportunities. Countrywide, farmers have adopted a management risk strategy in which they keep planting whenever rains occur, which explains why planted crops are in various growing stages. Early December widespread rains in the central region, including in much of Zambézia Province and northern Manica and Sofala, likely triggered massive planting. On the contrary, in much of the north and the rest of central region, the rains began on time or earlier than expected, with planted crops in emergence stages across most of the north to vegetative levels in much of the central region. In the south, the crop stages are mixed, ranging from emergence to vegetative, and some crops, particularly in Gaza, are beginning to experience some water stress due to below-average rainfall. According to NOAA’s ARC2 30-day rainfall estimates from November 18 to December 17, Gaza Province has received less than 75 percent of normal rainfall, which will require close monitoring. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security’s (MASA) Crop and Early Warning Unit (DCAP) estimated that as of the end of November, 60 percent of planned areas in the country had been prepared. In the south, only 40 percent of the planned areas have been planted, which marks a delay as planting typically concludes by the end of November. MASA/DCAP estimates generally average levels of planting for the central region at 30 percent and 20 percent for the north.

    Pests and diseases: An infestation of Fall Armyworm (FAW) has been observed in Inhambane and Sofala provinces, but according to DCAP/MASA, it has not had a significant impact. There has also been an occurrence of African “Mosaic” on cassava crops. Control measures are being employed to combat both, and plans to operationalize a FAW action plan are underway.

    FEWS NET Rapid Market Assessment: In late November, FEWS NET carried out a rapid market assessment in select major producer areas, deficit areas, and border areas with Malawi. While most of the findings will be included in the Southern Africa Regional Supply and Market Outlook in early 2018, below are some of the key findings from the assessment on maize grain availability and prices:

    • The level of supply of maize grain is well above average while demand for the commodity is below average.
    • Maize grain was available from non-traditional source areas, including in typical deficit areas.
    • In the central and northern regions, maize grain prices have been atypically stable or even decreasing. In southern markets, maize grain prices are also stable or rising much slower than expected. Maize grain prices at all levels (producer, wholesale, and retail) are well below average.
    • The perception of traders and private trading agents is that during the remainder of the consumption period they are not envisioning any significant increases in maize grain prices. Some are even predicting an abnormal trend in which maize grain prices will decrease, particularly if prospects for the season remain favorable. 

    UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS

    Overall, the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the Mozambique Food Security Outlook for October 2017 to May 2018 remain unchanged except the following assumption:

    • Maize grain prices: Based on FEWS NET’s recent market assessment, from December 2017 to May 2018, maize grain prices are expected to remain below last year’s prices by 60 percent on average and below the five-year average by 30 percent on average. From December 2017 to January/February 2018, maize grain prices are likely to atypically remain stable or increase much slower than average, and from February to May 2018 are expected to start seasonally decreasing.

    PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH MAY 2018

    December 2017 to January 2018: Most of the country is expected to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes due to favorable food access, while poor households in Chemba District in Sofala are likely to continue facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes and require urgent food assistance. These poor households are expected to atypically intensify their consumption of wild foods, reduce their meals (quantity and frequency), consume less preferred foods, and rely on help from others to try to cover their food gaps. Due to lower herd sizes caused by excessive sales, poor households in this semiarid area have limited ability to sell additional livestock, and most are relying on forest products for needed income, including producing and selling charcoal, poles, and grass. In the central areas facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, poor households are likely meeting their minimum food needs but engaging in irreversible coping strategies to meet their non-essential needs, and therefore require humanitarian assistance to protect their basic livelihoods.

    February to May 2018: Apart from the increased availability of green food in February, the majority of poor households are likely to continue relying on a range of typical livelihood and coping strategies to meet their minimum food needs. The atypically low maize prices expected through May should more easily facilitate needed market food purchases. As the harvests start (ranging from March in the south to late April in the far north), most poor households will gradually reduce their dependency on coping strategies and market purchases to meet their food needs. At the peak of the lean season, FEWS NET estimates that the number of food insecure people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity will be well below the five-year average, including potential flood or cyclone-affected people, who may require emergency food assistance depending on the magnitude of the disaster. From April onwards, with the availability of harvested crops, most poor households, including those in Chemba District, are expected to be accessing food from their own production and their acute food insecurity outcomes will lessen and are likely to range from either Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to None (IPC Phase 1), depending on the severity of their previous situation. At this stage of the 2017/18 cropping season, it is still too early to determine specific areas of below-average production. However, if there is a localized poor harvest in April, this is not likely to have a significant impact during the scenario period through May 2018, but could potentially later when household stocks deplete earlier than normal. The forecast for enhanced cyclonic activity and above-average rainfall could cause localized flooding in some of the major basins. Depending on the extent of any flooding, which is possible through March, some flood-affected households may still face food gaps until they recover through post-flood production in May/June.

    Figures SEASONAL CALENDAR FOR A TYPICAL YEAR

    Figure 1

    SEASONAL CALENDAR FOR A TYPICAL YEAR

    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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