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Food Security Outlook through June 2012

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • February - June 2012
Food Security Outlook through June 2012

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Most likely food security scenario, February through June 2012
  • Key Messages
    • This season’s rainfall has been irregular thus far. Rainfall has been below average in the interior of Inhambane province and central/southern Sofala province while tropical storm “Dando”, tropical cyclone “Funso” and flooding in south and parts of central and northern regions have disrupted the livelihoods. While the severity of the impact is still unclear, it is likely that planted crops have been severely affected in localized areas.

    • Food aid is required for 83,000 flood-affected people for an initial 30-day period, in addition to the food assistance needs of 245,000 people identified by the December vulnerability assessment update.  The type, level, and duration of needs will be updated by the Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition’s Vulnerability Assessment Group (SETSAN/GAV) that is currently on field assessment.

    • The identified areas of concern for the February to June outlook period include the southern Zambezi basin and parts of south and central zones currently affected by rainfall deficits. In Massangena and Chigubo, poor and very poor households are expected to remain at stressed conditions (IPC Phase 2) throughout March. From April until June all areas of the country will be classified as IPC Phase 1 as the main season harvest takes place during this period.  

    Current Situation

    As the lean season (October-February) peaks, the majority of rural households throughout the country are able to meet their basic food needs. Households in general are consuming the remains of their own 2011 production, available seasonal fruits and vegetables, and market purchases. They are supporting this consumption with typical lean season livelihood strategies, which include switching of expenditure from non-food items to staple foods, seeking casual labor (especially for weeding and replanting where conditions permit), and hunting and gathering wild foods. The prices of most important commodities have been stable since December 2011 and in general have followed the normal seasonal trend. This is primarily due to normal availability and flow of food commodities in the country. The stability of staple food prices facilitates food access for the majority of households, including the poor and very poor, who are now turning to markets to complement their basic food needs.

    In general, 2011/12 seasonal rains (Oct-Mar) have brought much needed relief to drought-stricken areas in the southern and central zones. For the majority of the country, the improved access to water has also reduced the time spent by most households fetching water and made more time available for tending fields. In the north, the rains have started and been adequate for cropping needs.

    However, rainfall has been irregular and below normal rainfall across most of the country during the first half of the season (October-December 2011). Starting in January, the situation was aggravated by a number of shocks which have disrupted livelihoods. These include strong winds and floods from Tropical Storm “Dando” that hit the southern zone of Mozambique on January 18, followed by Tropical Cyclone “Funso” which affected the coastal areas of Zambézia province between January 20-22 and resulted in moderate floods in the southern and parts of the central and northern regions.

    The number of people directly affected by the torrential rains, strong winds, and flooding is estimated at 119,471, of which a relatively small number were or are displaced to temporary accommodation centers. According to the Humanitarian Country Team’s food security cluster, food aid is required for 83,000 people for an initial 30-day period.  This assistance will be provided to the flood affected population, prioritizing people in temporary accommodation centers, households who have lost their houses and food stocks, and those facing difficulty in accessing markets.  Seeds will also be distributed for replanting. The type, level, and duration of needs will be updated by the Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition’s Vulnerability Assessment Group (SETSAN/GAV) which is currently conducting a field assessment.

    While the seasonal crop assessment is ongoing, a rapid assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) has estimated that recent shocks have affected 140.5 hectares of cropland, of which 42 hectares were completely lost including areas planted to maize, rice, cassava, sweet-potatoes, beans, groundnuts, horticulture crops, banana trees, cotton and sugar cane. Most of the affected areas are located in the lower Limpopo basin including Guijá, Chibuto, Chókwe, Manjacaze and Xai-Xai districts in Gaza province, parts of Maputo province including Magude, Manhiça and Marracuene districts, and parts of Zambézia province. The crop loss may affect local food availability in the affected areas, although interprovincial trade is likely to minimize these deficits.  

    Other areas of the country have been experiencing rainfall deficits that may reduce crop yields and production. These areas include the semi arid zones of the Zambezi basin (southern Tete province), the interior of Inhambane province and the central and southern zones of Sofala province, where anecdotal reports indicates failure of the main season production, particularly for maize (Figure 1).  However, despite cyclones, floods and localized dryness, given the favorable rains in most areas and extent of planting thus far, it is likely that the current cropping season will be close to average overall.

    Aside from the additional needs described above, the December 2011 update of the national vulnerability assessment findings (SETSAN/GAV) remain valid, with 245,000 people requiring humanitarian assistance until March 2012 due mainly to 2010/11 rainfall irregularities in the semi-arid areas and their impact on crop production. The report also indicates that 2011 second season production contributed substantially to increased food access and therefore to better food security among many poor households than was expected when the August assessment was carried out. Only Massangena and Chigubo districts (yellow areas in Figure 2) are not classified as IPC Phase 1, Minimal Acute Food Insecurity. In these areas the food security of very poor and poor households is classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to the impact of 2011 crop deficits described above.

    Most likely food security scenario, February through June 2012

    The areas of most concern for the February through June outlook period include the lower Zambezi basin and the parts of southern and central zones currently affected by rainfall deficits.

    The most likely February to June scenario is based on the following assumptions:

    • Overall, the main season harvest (Mar-Jun) will be average, with below average performance in localized areas of southern Sofala province districts, and interior of Inhambane.
    • Continued rainfall during the February – April 2012 will result in favorable second season crop production (Aug-Sep) in southern Mozambique;
    • Moderate floods, cyclones, and drought are expected to affect localized areas of the country through  April;
    • Government and partners will continue to provide emergency humanitarian assistance for populations affected by recent shocks (cyclones and floods) and targeted food aid to households identified by the national vulnerability assessment though March 2012.
    • Provision of inputs for the second season will be adequate and timely;
    • Generally the staple food prices will remain stable in most areas.

    From March to June, the majority of households throughout the country will be generally food secure, while attention should be focused particularly on Massangena and Chigubo districts (yellow in Figure 1), where the very poor and poor population will face Stressed food security (IPC Phase 2) until March. In these districts the food insecure population exceeds 20 percent of the total population of the districts. These households are now relying on green food, and forest products. The temporary emergency situation caused by the two storms “Dando” and “Funso”, and the floods in the south will not have any significant effect on the previously projected food security conditions. Shocks during the current season will help to perpetuating the chronically vulnerable conditions in these areas, but with on-set of harvest the food security conditions will improve to Phase 1 across the country.

    Drought-affected areas of Inhambane and Sofala

    In contrast with the flooded areas of the country, since the beginning of the current rainfall season, the interior of Inhambane province and the central and southern parts of Sofala province have experienced significant rainfall deficits. The situation has worsened since the start of the new year with cumulative rainfall from January 1 to February only 30 to 80 percent of normal in large parts of these areas (Figure 1). In dry conditions, households will persist planting whenever rains occur. Most households still have seeds from their own stocks, while others are purchasing, and others supplied by the government and partners. The direct impacts are still unclear but it is likely that planted crops were severely affected. The Crop and Early Warning Unit (DCAP) from the Ministry of Agriculture is carrying out a crop assessment to estimate the impacts of the recent shocks including the prevailing drought in these two provinces.

    Households in the affected areas have food reserves sufficient to last until the harvest in March/April, and will remain at IPC Phase 1: minimal acute food insecurity.  Very poor and poor households will employ typical coping mechanisms, while the middle and better-off are able to draw down on extra stocks or sell animals.  Even if crop production is poor in these areas, the impact of this poor production is not likely to be felt until much later in the 2012/13 consumption year. Nonetheless, while monitoring exercises are taking place from various technical groups (including early warning from the Ministry of Agriculture and SETSAN-GAV) to assess the situation, mitigating actions should be timely taken and contingency planning should be timely prepared.

    Continued flooding considered likely

    The potential for further flooding exists, especially as the global models show that the 2011/12 season has been influenced by a La Niña conditions phenomenon. Historically, during La Niña events, the southeastern region of Africa experiences wetter than normal conditions.  In Mozambique, the areas of greatest flood risk are the Zambezi and Limpopo Basins. If additional flooding occurs, reduced agricultural labor opportunities in flooded areas may lead to reductions in income for very poor and poor households. However, this may be partially off-set by increased labor opportunities in areas on higher ground which will not be affected by floods. The impact from severe floods may also include partial destruction of roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, likely resulting in unseasonable increases of staple food prices due to constrained access to markets and the resulting undersupply of food. Anticipating supply shortfalls, additional supplies from neighboring markets will flow into local markets if the infrastructure is not completely destroyed though food prices would remain above-average and may increase. Access to food in markets by very poor and poor households would be difficult.  In general, the recovery would be expected to begin by April-May with the second season planting taking place immediately following the recession of flood waters. Usually, after floods, higher than normal yields are harvested during the second season due to adequate content of moisture in the newly exposed soil. Large scale provision of inputs by the government and partners would needed to fully take advantage of the beneficial soil moisture.

    Outside of the flood-affected areas, from February to March, most crops cultivated in the rain-fed areas away from the lowlands will not be affected by floods although heavy rains or poor rains may reduce crop yields. Poor households will rely on markets but high prices will limit their purchasing power. To complement the deficits, these households will likely employ coping strategies including: selling natural/forest products such as grass, building poles, firewood, producing and selling charcoal, resorting to informal labor, and hunting. Also, these households will sell small domestic animals, especially poultry, and small livestock such as goats and pigs. Better-off households may be able to draw down on extra stocks, or sell a few animals to obtain enough food.  February marks the starting of green harvest crops which will continue through the effective harvest in March/April where households will benefit from the newly harvested crops.

    Tropical cyclones

    The districts along the coastal areas of Inhambane, Sofala, Zambézia, Cabo Delgado, and Nampula provinces (although forecasts for cyclones are still unavailable for the Southwest Indian Ocean Basin), remain at risk of storm damage through the end of April. The most frequently affected area is the coastal area between Nampula and Inhambane provinces. A cyclone’s high winds, heavy rains, and storm surges on the coast cause potential loss of life and damage to property, communications, infrastructure, and crops. In the case of a major storm, it is expected that the government and partners will be able to respond effectively, without external assistance, to the likely impact of cyclones including rescue operations, temporary accommodation and humanitarian assistance. Nonetheless, a major cyclone, though considered unlikely, could result in external response needs.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events Timeline

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events Timeline

    Source: FEWS NET

    Percentage of average rainfall from January 1 to February 20, 2012

    Figure 2

    Percentage of average rainfall from January 1 to February 20, 2012

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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