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Currently, most households across the country face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, with access to their food reserves, the ongoing green harvest, and market purchases to meet their food and non-food needs. However, area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present in parts of the southern zone following a second consecutive year of poor production, along with the impact of heavy rainfall and flooding since February 2023. The most affected areas will likely deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from June due to damage from the climatic shocks, a poor 2023 main harvest, and limited access to income. In Cabo Delgado, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes prevail in areas accessible to humanitarian partners, where food assistance is expected, with inaccessible areas continuing to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.
According to the National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction (INGD), heavy rainfall and flooding have affected nearly 166,600 people as of March 3, 2023, primarily in Inhambane province, Maputo city, Sofala province, and Gaza province. Preliminary findings indicate that more than 12,700 homes have been flooded, with around 15,600 houses totally or partially destroyed. Approximately 38,100 hectares of agricultural land have been affected, particularly in low-lying areas. Widespread damage to public infrastructure and services has also been reported, including around 400 schools and 685 kilometers of road. FEWS NET will continue to monitor and assess the impact of the heavy rainfall on the upcoming harvest and any impacts on household acute food insecurity.
A food security assessment by FEWS NET in cyclone Gombe-affected areas of Nampula Province concluded that households likely face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes following a good cassava harvest in October/November. The cassava group was reportedly not seriously affected by cyclone Gombe as it was in the initial growth stage and was able to recover. Additionally, a large cashew nut harvest, increased sales, and post-flood and second season production of vegetables and sweet potatoes improved household food access, allowing households to meet their food needs.
From December 2022 to January 2023, maize grain prices remained stable in most monitored markets. Compared to 2022 and the five-year average, maize grain prices in January 2023 had a mixed trend. As typical, maize meal and rice prices were relatively stable from December 2022 to January 2023 in all monitored markets and compared to their respective prices in 2022 and the five-year average. The annual inflation rate in Mozambique eased for the fifth straight month to 9.78 percent in January 2023 from 10.91 percent in the previous month. It is the lowest rate since May 2022, mainly due to a decline in the price inflation of transportation, restaurants & hotels, and furnishings & household equipment. However, prices climbed further for food & non-alcoholic beverages, housing & utilities, education, and miscellaneous goods and services.
Heavy rainfall and flooding: On February 24, 2023, the former Tropical Cyclone Freddy weather system made landfall between Vilanculo and Massinga districts in Inhambane province as a moderate tropical storm with winds of 95 km/h before weakening to winds of 55 km/h. Over three days, between 250-300 mm of rainfall was recorded, particularly in Gaza, Inhambane, Manica, and Sofala provinces. Widespread flooding was recorded in areas that already had saturated soils and high river basin levels.
According to the INGD, as of March 3, 2023, the cumulative effects of the heavy rainfall and flooding have affected nearly 166,600 people. The rains and floods have partially or totally destroyed more than 15,600 houses, flooded more than 12,700 houses, affected 391 schools, 25 health units, 685 kilometers of roads, and destroyed two bridges. Additionally, more than 38,100 hectares of croplands were also affected. As of March 3, there are 40 active accommodation centers hosting around 10,000 people impacted by the storm.
Additionally, the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS) highlighted that there is a risk of severe flooding in the Limpopo river basin, anticipating that flooding could be worse than during Cyclone Eloise in 2021. Given that the rainy season is ongoing and soils are saturated, the risk of flooding persists in the lower reaches of the watersheds of the Save (already flooded), Inhanombe, Maputo, Incomati, Limpopo, Púngoè rivers, and in particular the Zambezi river, driven by the gradual increase in discharges currently underway in the Cahora Bassa dam. Rising waters levels in the southern zone and the forecast of more rainfall and runoff upstream has led local authorities to recommend that agricultural households in the lowlands close to the rivers harvest early to avoid losing their crops. FEWS NET will continue to closely monitor the situation to determine impacts to acute food insecurity and provide updates in upcoming reports.
According to the INGD, multiple climatic events have affected more than 256,500 people, particularly in southern and central Mozambique, flooding nearly 23,900 homes and damaging or destroying nearly 21,100. Widespread damage to public infrastructure and services has also been reported, including over 1,000 schools, 69 health units, and nearly 3,500 kilometers of road. Additionally, preliminary estimates indicate that at least 72,500 hectares of cropland have been partially or completely lost.
Households in the accommodation centers receive food, sanitation and hygiene products, and health care. Food assistance, mosquito nets, and chlorine to treat drinking water are also being distributed to affected areas.
To better mitigate and manage disaster risks, the government has allocated 260 million MZN (~4.07 million USD) to mitigate the effects of flooding in the City and Province of Maputo. An additional 10 million USD has also been allocated to respond to the immediate needs of post-emergency reconstruction, along with around 4.8 million USD in collaboration with the World Bank.
Cholera: As of March 6, the Ministry of Health (MISAU) reports that around 7,500 cholera cases have been recorded since mid-September 2022 across Mozambique, with 43 deaths. However, four districts in Sofala, Niassa, and Zambezia province have been declared cholera free along with Niassa province. A critical shortage of WASH supplies is hindering the response at a time when the outbreak is expanding. Of great concern are areas that are flooded or likely to be flooded. The government and humanitarian partners are monitoring cases of diarrhea to prevent further cholera outbreaks. A cholera vaccination campaign with 720,000 doses starts on February 27, targeting the provinces of Gaza, Niassa, Sofala, and Zambezia. The government is making a second request for 840,000 cholera vaccines to expand the cholera campaign.
Rapid food security assessments in Nampula and Cabo Delgado Provinces: In January 2023, FEWS NET conducted a rapid qualitative food security assessment in the Cyclone Gombe-affected districts of Meconta, Monapo, Mongicual, and Mossuril in Nampula province. Findings indicate that cassava- the area's major staple crop- was in its initial growth phase and was largely unaffected, resulting in a large harvest in September/October 2022. However, the maize crop was in the reproductive growth phase when Cyclone Gombe landed and was severely affected. The cassava harvest increased household and market food availability. Additionally, the August harvest of sweet potatoes and various vegetables from post-flood and second-season production also contributed to stabilizing household food consumption. The start of cashew nut sales in November 2022 also contributed substantially to households' income, with a kilogram of cashews selling for 34 MZN (~0.53 USD).
Since the start of the 2022/2023 agricultural season, rainfall has been well distributed across Nampula, supporting planting. Field crops are in various stages of growth and in good condition, while agricultural labor opportunities are close to or above average levels, providing income to many poor households. According to local authorities and producers, the 2023 harvest is expected to be good. However, key informants noted that a shock climatic event like a cyclone, flood, or prolonged dry spell could negatively impact the harvest. Local markets are well-stocked with various foods, including farm and processed foods. Maize grain prices are relatively at normal levels. Although some poor households have not yet fully recovered from Cyclone Gombe, interviewed key informants and focus groups reported that households are not engaging in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Overall, area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present in the visited districts, with the upcoming harvest in April likely to support Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.
In mid-January 2023, FEWS NET also conducted a rapid food security assessment in Cabo Delgado province. Findings indicate that improved security and the resumption of public services, including parts of Mocímboa da Praia and Palma districts, has encouraged IDPs to return to their regions of origin. According to findings from IOM/DTM across Northern Mozambique, there are just over 1 million IDPs in northern Mozambique, with around 352,500 returnees as of November 2022 following key-informant assessments at district and location levels. To improve livelihoods and promote agricultural production, the FSC distributed seeds and agricultural inputs, including certified seeds, to around 120,000 people. This support contributes to resuming agricultural activities in areas previously affected by the conflict. However, the number of IDPs and humanitarian assistance needs are likely to remain high due to the volatility of the situation, but at relatively lower levels than in previous years.
In mid-January, most crops in Cabo Delgado were in the germination phase. The assessment determined that most households living in IDP camps still rely on humanitarian food assistance as their main food source. However, the government has warned that it will begin prioritizing assistance to focus on livelihoods and reconstruction rather than food assistance in the coming months.
Insurgents are still active in the northern and central districts of Cabo Delgado and continue to conduct small-scale attacks in search of food and weapons. However, insurgent incursions have a less significant impact on trade and passenger transport in Cabo Delgado, with civilians increasingly able to travel within the province with a degree of normalcy. The last quarter of 2022 recorded a notable decrease in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Metuge, Ancuabe, Montepuez, and Mueda who moved to Muidumbe and Mocímboa da Praia. Overall, most of the less secure conflict-affected areas of Cabo Delgado are still facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3), while in more accessible areas of Cabo Delgado where humanitarian partners can regularly distribute humanitarian food assistance to IDPs and host communities, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) prevail.
Progress of the 2021/2022 agricultural season: The 2022/2023 agricultural season started throughout the country with timely and well-distributed rainfall, supporting widespread planting. However, in the south, erratic rainfall in December and January period, with prolonged dry spells combined with high temperatures resulted in wilting and crop loss. During this period, households also planted several times to recover the harvest. However, substantial rainfall in February was too late for crop recovery in the western part of Gaza province and much of Maputo province (Figure 1). Heavy rainfall and overflowing rivers flooded thousands of hectares of crops in low-lying areas in early February. However, post-flood and second-season production is likely if households can access seeds. Typically, the second season is only practiced in low-lying areas where soil can retain residual moisture, which is not the case for much of the interior of Maputo and Gaza provinces. However, in Inhambane, Sofala, Manica, Tete, Zambézia, Nampula, Niassa, and Cabo Delgado provinces, all major production areas are receiving regular and sufficient rainfall for a successful 2023 harvest.
Ongoing self-employment activities. Most poor households in rural areas continue to earn an average income through agricultural labor and petty trade, including selling crops, livestock, and charcoal, producing and selling traditional beverages, and collecting and selling forest products such as grass and firewood, building poles, and reeds. Poor households also sell cashew nuts and other seasonal products such as watermelon.
However, in areas affected by the mid-season dryness, high temperatures, and flooding, poor households' access to income from agricultural labor and in-kind payments is below-normal due to the loss of agricultural labor opportunities from weeding and pre-harvesting in February. To compensate for the loss of income, poor households in the shock-affected areas are expanding self-employment activities to earn income. However, charcoal production is being affected by excessive moisture and increased competition. When necessary, households sell livestock and poultry at average market prices. Some members of poor families in areas with lost production also emigrate to large urban centers and often illegally to South Africa to earn income and send back remittances. However, remittances from South Africa have been increasingly lower in recent years due to employment difficulties and greater control by immigration authorities.
Maize grain, maize meal, and rice prices: From December 2022 to January 2023, maize grain prices remained stable in most monitored markets. However, prices dropped 10 percent in Xai-Xai and increased 8, 13, and 17 percent in Mutarara, Montepuez, and Massinga. However, the price increases follow seasonal trends when prices normally peak in February/March. The relative stability and slight reduction in maize grain prices in some markets are likely driven by local demand and supply dynamics.
Compared to last year, maize grain prices in January 2023 had a mixed trend. Maize grain prices in January 2023 were 10 to 39 percent lower than respective prices last year in Maxixe, Maputo, Massinga, and Montepuez, stable in Chókwe, Manica, Mutarara, and 50 and 71 percent higher in Angónia and Mocuba, respectively. However, last year, maize grain prices in Angónia and Mocuba were below the five-year average due to high supply in the highest production areas of Tete and Zambézia provinces, where the two markets are located. There was also a mixed trend compared to the five-year average, with most markets recording maize grain prices 7 to 21 percent below average and 33 to 39 percent above average. Prices were below the five-year average in Chókwe, Maputo, Maxixe, Xai-Xai, Mutarara, Montepuez, and Massinga and above average in Nampula, Mocuba, and Angónia.
Maize meal and rice prices were relatively stable from December 2022 to January 2023 in all monitored markets. Maize meal and rice prices in January 2023 were stable compared to last year except in Inhambane and Montepuez, where rice prices in January 2023 were 15 and 22 percent above prices last year. Compared to the five-year average, maize meal prices remained stable in all monitored markets, except in Mocuba and Manica, where maize meal prices were 11 and 20 percent above the five-year average. By contrast, rice prices in January 2023 were similar or 11 to 29 percent above the five-year average in most monitored markets.
Inflation: The annual inflation rate in Mozambique eased for the fifth straight month to 9.78 percent in January 2023, the lowest since last May 2022, mainly due to a slowdown in transportation prices, restaurants and hotels, and furnishings and household equipment. However, prices climbed for food and non-alcoholic beverages (15.74 percent inflation), housing and utilities, education, and miscellaneous goods and services. Monthly, the consumer price index (CPI) increased by 0.98 percent in January, down from 1.35 percent in December 2022. The biggest contributors to the monthly inflation rate were food & non-alcoholic beverages, restaurants, hotels, and cafes. Mozambique's National Institute of Statistics (INE) attributes price increases in vegetables, grains, and chicken as contributing the most to food and overall inflation.
Humanitarian Assistance: In response to the rain and flood damage from moderate tropical storm Freddy, 43 Accommodation Centers have been established to support around 10,000 people with shelter, food, and WASH interventions. However, with multiple shocks occurring simultaneously, including the conflict in Cabo Delgado, drought, and flooding in the south and center, humanitarian assistance needs are causing INGD to prioritize the response according to the severity level. WFP plans to resume food distributions in northern Mozambique in March, subject to confirmation of funding from partners.
In Gaza province, WFP is providing full rations of humanitarian assistance equivalent to 78 percent of daily kilocalories, along with a package of integrated interventions to boost food production, such as seeds, tools, and training from district agricultural extension officers to more than 22,000 people affected by the poor 2022 harvest. Beneficiaries are located in Chigubo, Guijá, Chiculacuala, and Mapai districts. In the Chigubo district, households receive 50 kg maize, 4 kg beans, and 4 liters of vegetable oil per month, while households in Mapai, Guijá, and Chicualacuala districts receive cash transfers of 3,600 MZN (~56 USD) per household. Assistance is expected to continue until May/June 2023.
Current Food Security Outcomes
Currently (February), most poor households face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes and rely on their food reserves, the current green harvest, and market purchases to meet their food and non-food needs. However, area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present in parts of the southern zone as food stocks from the poor 2022 harvest have been exhausted, the current season's green harvest has been affected by the effects of the tropical storm, and households are reliant on market purchases for food. However, limited access to income is constraining household purchasing power. In cyclone-affected areas of Nampula, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are present following the good cassava harvest and post-cyclone/flood harvest. In Cabo Delgado, area level Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes prevail in areas accessible to humanitarian partners, while more inaccessible conflict-affected areas face Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
The most likely scenario from February to September 2023 is based on the following national-level assumptions:
- Based on forecast models, above-average rainfall is most likely across much of southern and central Mozambique between March and May 2023. Northern Mozambique is likely to record cumulatively below-average rainfall through May 2023. Between January and March 2023, there is an increased likelihood of an average to an above-average number of cyclone strikes in Madagascar and Mozambique, based on a review of information from model and regional forecasts.
- The prolonged dry spells in January 2023 will likely negatively impact crop production, particularly maize, in southwestern and localized areas of southern Mozambique. Crops that have experienced permanent wilting in southern Mozambique will likely not benefit from improved rainfall. The harvest is likely to be below average in these areas.
- There is a high risk of flooding from January to March 2023, according to the National Directorate for the Management of Water Resources (DNGRH). Flooding along major watersheds will likely result in crop losses, particularly in low-lying areas. However, households in affected areas are expected to recover a harvest through post-flood planting, assuming seeds are available.
- The 2022/2023 agricultural season is expected to be average in the major crop-growing areas of Mozambique. As typical, there is the potential for crop damage from pests and diseases, including fall armyworm (FAW), locusts, and rodents, although normal to above-normal rainfall can help suppress the level of infestation.
- Driven by residual soil moisture, second-season production is expected to be average to above average throughout much of the country, except for the coastal areas of the northern region, where residual moisture is expected to be below average. In flood-affected areas, households with access to short-cycle and horticultural seeds will replant following the recession of floodwaters.
- Rangeland resources and livestock body conditions are expected to remain close to average through the rainy season before deteriorating seasonally during the May to September dry season. Overall, average level throughout the scenario period.
- Wild food availability will remain near normal levels through September. The availability of green foods is expected to be timely and close to normal throughout the country.
- Agricultural labor opportunities are expected to be close to normal in rural areas. Poor households are expected to earn income through in-kind payments and cash, with payment sometimes occurring after the harvest, particularly in areas affected by shocks. Households will likely continue to engage in self-employment activities to generate income for market purchases. Following the main annual harvest, rural households will gradually rely more on their production for food and income. However, income is likely to be below average due to crop losses and increased competition in areas that experience climatic shocks.
- For the marketing year starting in April 2023, the expected national near-average harvest will result in near-average food availability for poor households. Exceptions include areas affected by conflict, drought, cyclones, and floods, where localized food availability may be below average. However, the inflow of products from surplus-producing areas will support market supply. It is anticipated that maize and rice imports will remain close to the five-year average. Almost all national wheat and more than 50 percent of national rice needs will likely be imported.
- Trade flows of staple foods are expected to occur normally at typical volumes along major routes in central and southern regions supported by an average 2023 harvest. However, in areas affected by flooding, food supply may be below average due to the limited local harvest and constraints caused by the precariousness of access roads, which could lead to above-average localized food prices. The central and northern markets will be primarily supplied by maize grain from local or nearby districts, while central zone markets will predominantly supply southern zone markets. In conflict-affected areas of Cabo Delgado, trade flows will be constrained. Prices for imported and processed commodities, such as rice and maize meal, are expected to remain more stable than bulk grain prices. Short-term market variations will be driven by localized supply and demand dynamics.
- Cross-border trade with South Africa is expected to be close to average. Formal and informal cross-border trade with Zimbabwe is expected to be average to above average, driven by demand for cheaper basic commodities from Mozambique (rice, spaghetti, flour, cooking oil), secondhand clothing, and other processed commodities. Maize exports to Malawi, both informal and formal, are expected to be average, as southern Malawi is typically a maize deficit area.
- Based on FEWS NET price projections, maize grain prices in the national reference market of Maputo are expected to follow the seasonal trends, increasing slightly in January and then oscillating from February to April before decreasing slightly from May to July following the main 2023 harvest (Figure 2). From August to September, maize grain prices will gradually and slowly increase as maize grain stocks in the market start to dwindle and household demand increases. Prices are likely to remain close to the five-year average and last year. As typical, maize meal and rice prices are expected to remain more stable than bulk grain prices, but short-term variations will be driven by localized supply and demand dynamics. However, in flood-affected markets, where local supply will be below average, prices may exceed the five-year average and last year's level unless traders can meet the market demand.
Source: FEWS NET estimates based on MADER/SIMA data
- National and global projections indicate that inflation rates in Mozambique will likely decline. The MZN, which has been stable against the USD since around June 2021, is expected to experience a modest appreciation in 2023, according to global economic models, a trend favoring imports.
- With the significant relaxation of strict border control measures between Mozambique and neighboring countries, particularly South Africa, cross-border migration will likely be close to average. Likewise, migration from rural to urban areas in Mozambique will continue at average levels.
- Based on past funding and distribution trends, WFP and humanitarian partners are expected to continue providing humanitarian assistance to IDPs and host families through the outlook period. However, widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely in Cabo Delgado without humanitarian assistance due to a lack of access to adequate food or income.
- The international coalition of military forces is expected to continue counter-insurgent operations through September 2023, seeking to significantly disrupt the non-state armed groups (NSAG) activities and strategy in the currently occupied areas. However, the NSAG militants will likely continue to launch attacks against civilian targets, including villages. There is a heightened threat of attacks in Montepuez and Mueda District and further south into Meluco, and potentially Ancuabe as NSAG militants flee areas of increased security operations. Displaced households are expected to continue returning to their places of origin to better access food and income, but the number of IDPs will likely remain high through September 2023.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
From February to May 2023, most poor households in Mozambique will likely face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, with access to green food in February and March, followed by the harvest of the main staple crops. As the harvest progresses, households will gradually reduce their dependence on market purchases. However, in most of Inhambane, Gaza, Maputo, and southern parts of Manica and Sofala provinces, poor households will atypically start facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as they remain atypically dependent on market food purchases due to the likely significantly below-average to failed crop harvest because of mid-season dryness, above normal temperatures, and severe flooding. In these areas, below-average income due to poor or failed harvest, increased competition in self-employment opportunities, and lack of market are expected to limit the purchasing power of poor households. The timely availability of seeds for those affected by the floods will be crucial for a quick recovery, particularly for cultivating vegetables and even short-cycle cereals. In conflict-affected areas in Cabo Delgado, even with the continued return of IDPs to their areas of origin, the impact of the conflict is expected to limit income-earning opportunities from agricultural or casual labor activities mostly due to the permanent climate of tension characterized by unexpected attacks. Therefore, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely prevail in areas more directly impacted by conflict and where humanitarian access is limited due to insecurity and the risk of attacks. However, in areas where humanitarian assistance is assumed to resume in March, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are expected.
From June to September 2023, most poor households will continue accessing food from their production and face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. However, most poor households will be reliant on second season and post-flood production to minimize food consumption gaps in the flood-affected areas of Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, and southern Sofala and Manica provinces. Households will likely recover some of their harvest, mainly vegetables, and improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Minimal (IPC Phase 1). However, it is important to underline that household access to seeds and residual soil moisture will determine engagement in the second season. In areas with difficulties for post-flood production and second season, households will likely intensify their 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. In areas unable to engage in a second season and do not own livestock to sell or the capacity to produce charcoal, less than one in five households will likely engage in coping strategies to minimize food consumption gaps by 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, these poor households will likely begin engaging in more severe coping strategies such as withdrawing children from school unless meals are provided at school, or sending households 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. However, area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes will likely be widespread. In the conflict-affected areas of Cabo Delgado, areas impacted by conflict are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), while areas receiving humanitarian assistance will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
Events that might change the outlook
Impact on food security outcomes
Absence of humanitarian food assistance
In the absence of humanitarian food assistance, acute malnutrition and food insecurity are expected to increase, particularly during the June to September dry season, driving a rise in the population facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes.
Scale-up of humanitarian food assistance in Cabo Delgado and Niassa
The scale-up of HFA will likely improve food access, increasing area-level Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes in Cabo Delgado, and the emergence of Minimal! (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes.
Limited access to seeds and tools
Poor households impacted by the flooding will likely be unable to plant in the post-flood and second season and recover some of the lost harvests. Households will likely remain market dependent on food until the 2024 harvest.
Traders do not respond to market demands in deficit-producing areas
Local markets will likely be undersupplied, increasing food prices. Food access for market-dependent poor households will be more difficult, particularly in areas affected by shocks. Higher maize prices will reduce household purchasing power and increase food consumption gaps.
Fuel price increases
An increase in fuel prices will likely increase transportation costs which will be reflected in higher food prices, reducing household purchasing power.
Cyclones and floods striking the coastal areas of Mozambique
The risk of cyclones and floods is through March 2023. The worst flood-affected households will likely face food gaps until they recover through post-shock production beyond the scenario period.
Coastal and intermediate Cabo Delgado (Zone 8)
Drastic reduction of attacks and acceleration of the pacification process
A decline in conflict will encourage more people to return to their homes, boosting trade and other economic activities in previously insecure areas. However, humanitarian support will likely remain crucial as households recover their livelihoods.
Southern semiarid cereals and cattle livelihood zone (Figure 3)
The onset of rainfall and planting for the 2022/2023 season: The agricultural season got off to a good start in late October 2022 with significant rainfall across the area, which spurred widespread planting of first-season crops such as maize, sorghum, millet, groundnuts, and beans. However, in most of the western part of the area, there was a 10-to-20-day dry spell in November, particularly in the districts of Chicualacuala and Mapai, before rainfall resumed in late November (Figure 4). Rainfall remained erratic in the western part of Gaza province, with an irregular rainfall distribution accompanied by high temperatures. However, on the Inhambane side of the livelihood zone, the distribution of rainfall was more regular, and until January, crops were in good condition.
Source: FEWS NET
Cropping conditions: Prolonged dry spells in November, December, and January, combined with high temperatures, negatively affected crops in the reproductive crop growth phase, where moisture is critical for grain production. The areas most affected by the water stress were Chicualacuala and Mapai districts, but also in parts of Chigubo, Guijá, Chibuto, Massingir, and Mabalane districts where there are reports of crop loss and wilting. However, heavy rainfall from the low-pressure system associated with Moderate Tropical Storm Freddy resulted in water logging and widespread flooding in lowland areas in both provinces of Gaza and Inhambane, particularly in the major production areas in the lowlands. Due to several planting attempts, surviving crops in the field were in different growing stages. However, key informants report that the harvest is lost following the climatic shocks. The great hope lies in the possibility of recovery with production in the post-flood period.
Recent harvest: Food stocks at the household level are minimal or completely depleted, which is typical for this time of year. In a normal season, poor households are typically consuming green foods in late February, but due to crop loss caused by erratic rainfall, dryness, high temperatures, and flooding, green foods are not available as usual, even in the lowland areas along the rivers (outside the livelihood zone) where crops can be irrigated. However, the rainfall has improved the availability of wild foods, though the availability of watermelon, normally harvested in January, is reportedly 20 to 30 percent below normal.
Pasture and Water: Some pastures that had recovered from the erratic rainfall in December and January have been flooded, limiting access to pasture. However, pasture and water conditions within the livelihood zone remain adequate, and households do not have to travel unusually long distances to access water and pasture. Overall, livestock are in good body condition and considered average for this time of the year.
Market supplies and food prices: Local markets are supplied at normal levels of staple foods such as maize, cowpeas, and beans. Other staple foods that are usually imported or processed, such as maize flour, rice, and cooking oil, are also readily available. Maize grain prices in January are close to the five-year average and last year's price level. The price of maize flour and rice, typical substitutes for maize, have remained relatively stable, which is typical. Due to limited access to a green harvest, households continue to remain dependent on markets for food. However, there is concern that mobility difficulties due to the precariousness of access roads will likely result in price increases due to limited market supply.
Agriculture labor and wages: Currently, agriculture labor opportunities are below average due to loss of crops and poor crop conditions, reducing household access to cash and in-kind payments for weeding. Additionally, multiple poor harvests over the last five years have not allowed some households to recover fully, resulting in below-normal liquidity and paying power.
Self-employment and coping strategies: As typical, households are dependent on market purchases for food and are doing whatever they can to earn income for market purchases. Poor households are selling poultry and small to medium sized animals such as goats, pigs, and sheep, depending on availability at the household level. Additionally, households earn income from casual labor, including self-employment activities, such as producing and selling charcoal, gathering and selling firewood, brewing, thatching, cutting and sale of construction poles, and cutting and sale of reed (used in rural housing), and handcrafting. However, increased competition and lower demand are reducing household earnings. Households are also gathering wild foods for consumption and sale. Nevertheless, poor households are currently able to meet their food needs through market purchases without engaging in unsustainable coping strategies, but they cannot afford some essential non-food expenditures, such as clothes, school fees, health services, agriculture inputs, charcoal, construction materials, and other household items.
However, options for earning income are more limited for households in remote semiarid areas far away from major markets and who are also flood-affected and not in accommodation centers. Households primarily rely on their production, market purchases, and wild foods, including macuacua, xicutsi (roots of a local tree that are boiled with water and taken as tea), tinhire, and tinhlaru, among others. Due to the remoteness of most areas in the zone, poor households who can sell chickens or produce charcoal for sale have to transport them to distant markets to sell, but high transportation costs limit earnings. Water access for households is also normal following the significant rainfall in February. Overall, poor and very poor households can minimally meet their food needs but cannot afford some essential non-food expenditures.
Humanitarian food assistance: Continuing a program started last October as part of the response to the poor 2022 harvest in southern Mozambique, WFP is supporting around 22,600 people in four districts of Gaza province (Chigubo, Guijá, Chiculacuala and Mapai) with nine months (October 2022 to June 2023) of full rations of humanitarian assistance equivalent to 78 percent of daily kilocalories, along with a package of integrated interventions to boost food production such as seeds, tools, and training from district agricultural extension officers. In Chigubo district, households receive 50 kg maize, 4 kg beans, and 4 liters of vegetable oil per month, while households in Mapai, Guijá, and Chicualacuala districts receive cash transfers of 3,600 MZN (~56 USD) per household. Assistance is expected to continue until May/June 2023. More recently, as part of the current emergency situation, the government, in partnership with cooperation partners, is assisting people in the accommodation centers by providing shelter, food, and WASH. The government has also announced that it will begin distributing seeds to support households in post-flood production.
In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:
From February to April, maize prices in the Chókwe market are expected to rise as demand increases. Prices will likely drop slightly in May as the below-average harvest reaches the markets. However, from June onwards, the price of maize will likely begin rising before stabilizing from July to September due to some production in the second season and trade flows from the central region. Throughout the entire scenario period, maize grain price is expected to remain similar to and above prices last year and the five-year average. However, the precariousness of roads and the flooding of local markets could impact market dynamics.
Source: FEWS NET estimates based on MADER/SIMA data
- Most poor households are expected to remain market dependent for most of the scenario period. A poor harvest will likely result in households exhausting their food stocks by June 2023, much earlier than usual, and be dependent on market purchases for food.
- The area is expected to recover normal market functions following the recession of flood waters. A return to normal market and economic activity will support the recovery of household access to typical food and income.
- Due to heavy rainfall and waterlogged fields, second-season and post-flood crops will likely be planted later than usual. Farmers are expected to have access to seeds and tools through their own efforts or provided as part of the emergency response from the government and humanitarian partners.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
From February to May 2023, the mid-season dry spells, erratic rainfall, high temperatures, heavy rainfall, and floods will likely result in the 2023 harvest being poor to failed. Before crops mature, access to green food in February and March will be limited due to crop losses. In April and May, access to food from the main harvest will be limited to none, and most poor households will atypically continue relying on market purchases and humanitarian assistance for food. However, below-average income will limit the purchasing power of most poor households. Maize grain prices, which normally decline from March to May/June, will likely increase in April and remain above average throughout the remainder of the scenario period due to the low local market supply of maize. However, traders will likely supply markets with maize from the high-production areas in central Mozambique. Poor households will likely intensify typical income-generating activities to earn income. However, increased competition and reduced demand by middle and better-off households will likely limit earnings. Following a poor harvest, some family members from poorer households will likely migrate to major urban centers and South Africa for temporary work. Still, opportunities will likely be limited due to high competition and increased violence against migrants in South Africa. Overall, most poor households will likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as they can meet their food needs through market purchases and by engaging in typical coping strategies such as spending savings, borrowing money or food, buying food on credit, reducing non-food expenditures on health and education, selling more animals than usual, providing services in exchange for food, and harvesting immature crops (green maize) where available. However, poor households will likely begin facing food consumption gaps by the end of May. The worst-affected households are likely to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the lost harvest and below-average income access.
From June to September 2023, flood-affected households with access to seeds and tools will begin harvesting post-flood production that will provide basic food and allow for the sale of surplus production for income. Households will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as production may not be sufficient for a full recovery. For households unable to carry out the second season or post-flood production, their food deficits will gradually increase as their coping capacity weakens. These poor households will likely continue engaging in self-employment opportunities for income for food purchases. However, household purchasing power is likely below average due to atypical increases in staple food prices during the post-harvest period and increased competition. Migration to major urban centers and South Africa for casual labor opportunities will continue. Still, migration will likely be below average due to reduced economic activity and acts of violence lately occurring along the main entry corridors to South Africa. Beginning in June, these poor households will start adopting coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, such as sending a household member to eat elsewhere, increased consumption of wild foods such as xicutsi, consuming seed stocks, withdrawing children from school, skip or reduce meals, and consume less preferred foods. Food consumption gaps are expected to increase in late July, with area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes likely. However, the expected recovery in the second season and post-flood production will drive Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes for many households, but the worst-affected households will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
North-central coastal fishing livelihood zone – Subzone of coastal and intermediate Cabo Delgado (Figure 6)
Conflict trends: The start of the rainy season has seen a decline in the number of conflict incidents, likely due to heavy rainfall that has affected the mobility of insurgents and security forces. In February, attacks were recorded across the northern part of Cabo Delgado, however, most of the security incidents over the past three months have been in Muidumbe and Maconia districts (Figure 7).
Source: FEWS NET
According to the IOM's 17th Mobility Tracking Assessment (previously known as Baseline Assessments), conducted across northern Mozambique through key informant assessments at the district and location level in November 2022, there are around 1.03 million IDPs in northern Mozambique, while around 335,200 people have returned to their homes. Over 70 percent of the returnees are located across the districts of Mocimboa da Praia (71,409 returnees), Muidumbe (85,706 returnees), Mueda (50,568 returnees), Palma (40,508 returnees), and Quissanga (34,956 returnees). Most returnees reported returning due to the perception that the place of origin is safe (52 percent), better living conditions (43 percent), reunite with family (39 percent), and secure land and cultivate crops (28 percent).
On average, the flow of people fleeing conflicts and fearing new attacks has decreased, but households remain on the move across most of Cabo Delgado province. Typically, an attack will result in a large displacement event as households seek a safer area. For example, the IOM's Displacement Tracking Matrix recorded more than 6,200 people in Cabo Delgado on the move from February 8 to 14, a 6 percent increase over the previous week and more than double the average number of people registered in January. Relatedly, 87 percent of the people on the move that week reported being on the move due to attacks and fear of attacks, while others were on the move to join their relatives or return to their places of origin.
Progress of the 2022/2023 agricultural season: The 2022/2023 rainy and agricultural season was characterized by a 20 to 30-day late start to rainfall and below-average and irregular distribution in November. However, in December 2022, rainfall supported widespread planting, and currently, most crops are at the vegetative growth stage. In early January, a prolonged dry spell and high temperatures likely resulted in water stress to crops; however, rainfall in late January and February has improved crop conditions. Water-stressed crops are expected to recover.
In the resettlement centers, the food security cluster members distributed seeds and tools to around 127,000 people, including 102,448 IDPs and host families.
In areas where people are returning, the government, with support from cooperating partners, provides livelihood assistance, including seeds and production tools, and creates basic conditions for households to access water, education, and health services. According to the Provincial Service for Economic Activities (SPAE) of Cabo Delgado, by the end of January, around 861,800 kg of seeds had been distributed by government and partner organizations, with an emphasis on maize (~551,800 kg of seeds) and cowpeas (~212,600 kg of seeds) for the entire province of Cabo Delgado. For example, in the district of Mocímboa da Praia the government allocated 107,200 kilograms of maize grain seeds, 61,000 kilograms of cowpea seeds, 33,700 kilograms of peanuts seeds, and 18,000 kilograms of sesame seeds. Additional assistance included the distribution of around 43,700 hoes, 27,900 machetes, 2,500 rakes and axes, 4,700 airtight bags, 548 sprayers, and 2,500 watering cans across Cabo Delgado.
According to SPAE, by the end of January, around 521,900 hectares, around 88 percent of the planned area to be cropped, were planted primarily for cereal and tuber crops. Pulses were still in the planting process. SPAE estimates that around 476,300 tons of cereals, 139,700 tons of pulses, and 1,326,500 tons of tubers are expected when the harvest begins in April, with the harvest likely to be higher than in past years.
Around 41,000 hectares of different cash crops, primarily cotton and sesame, had been plowed and planted out of the 66,100 hectares planned. Around 149,600 tons of cash crops are expected to be harvested. Vegetable production is also beginning with nurseries being prepared.
Source: Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)
Market functioning and staple food prices: In Montepuez market, maize grain prices from December 2022 to January 2023 increased 13 percent following the seasonal trend. However, prices in January 2023 are almost 40 percent lower than last year, but 18 percent above the five-year average, likely due to reduced demand as IDPs return to their areas of origin and increased supply following a good 2022 harvest. For rice and maize meal, typical maize substitutes, rice prices in January 2023 were similar to December 2022 but 22 percent above prices last year and 24 percent above the five-year average as rice prices increased to around 55 MZN, similar to the national average. For maize meal, January 2023 prices are similar to December 2022, last year, and the five-year average.
Market demand has gradually increased as households are exhausting their food reserves and increasingly relying on food purchases from local markets. Maize grain prices are relatively lower compared to recent years, which may result from increased agricultural activity and availability. The flow of maize grain to the Montepuez market remains unchanged as the highest-producing districts are not directly affected by the conflict. Maize grain continues to flow from production zones within the Montepuez district and other high-production districts including Mueda, Balama, Chúre, Nampula, and Niassa provinces. Generally, the market continues to function normally and is well supplied with staple foods and other non-food products.
Income and food access: In the resettlement areas, humanitarian assistance remains the main source of food. Households in the resettlement areas are also purchasing food from markets using income from casual labor and small businesses, with a small number of households producing and selling agricultural products. For households in communities outside the accommodation centers, the main source of income is the production and sale of food products, followed by casual labor and small businesses.
Humanitarian food assistance: In January 2023, the Food Security Cluster (FSC) partners provided humanitarian food assistance to around 709,000 conflict-affected people in Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces through in-kind food assistance and vouchers. In Cabo Delgado, humanitarian food assistance was distributed to around 676,000 people; however, the distribution of food assistance by WFP was paused in February due to a lack of funding. WFP plans to resume food distributions in northern Mozambique in March, leveraging corporate loan facilities to bridge the gap until additional funding is confirmed.
In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:
- Staple food prices in Montepuez are expected to follow seasonal trends (Figure 8). The price of maize grain is expected to rise slightly in March before decreasing from April onwards in response to the increased availability of maize grain from the 2023 main harvest. Maize prices will likely increase in June/July as household food stocks decline and households become more market dependent. Maize grain prices are expected to remain below the five-year average throughout the scenario period. It is expected that maize prices will be lower than last year from February to July before becoming similar to prices in 2022 from August onwards. The price of maize grain will likely continue to be impacted by the presence of IDPs and humanitarian assistance.
Source: FEWS NET estimates based on MADER/SIMA data
- Agricultural labor opportunities and wages through cash or in-kind payments are expected to be below average as most middle, and better-off households have abandoned the zone.
- Returning households are expected to have below-normal opportunities for agricultural labor due to limited access to seeds and inputs, including access to land and a fear of going to the field in the early morning due to the fear of attacks. Households will likely continue to seek to earn income from producing and selling food crops, fishing, livestock, casual labor, and self-employment, but earnings will be below normal due to low liquidity and insecurity.
- Most displaced very poor households will have limited food stocks throughout the scenario period. However, households that receive seeds and inputs and can plant will likely have some food stocks following the harvest in June/July. The harvest is expected to be above last year but below pre-conflict levels.
- Due to insecurity and precarious access routes, supply to local markets will be minimal. Most households will reduce their exposure to violent incidents by consuming rather than selling crops as they try to maximize their harvest.
- Based on past funding and distribution trends, WFP and humanitarian partners are expected to continue providing humanitarian assistance to IDPs and host families through the outlook period. However, in the absence of humanitarian assistance, widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely in Cabo Delgado due to a lack of access to adequate food or income.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
From February to May 2023, the uncertainty of the insurgent's whereabouts is likely to keep civilian fear of attack high, but households in the livelihood zone will likely remain engaged in weeding and the start of the green and main harvest. Households along the coast will also likely continue fishing and be able to sell their fish for income. Additionally, food consumption will likely improve with the start of the green harvest. However, due to the ongoing conflict and concern about when the next attack occurs, households will likely continue relying on the forests as a refuge and a source of wild fruits and foods to supplement any production from the harvest. Across Cabo Delgado, most IDP families will likely continue to travel to areas with improved access to food and income-earning opportunities and reunite with family members. Although some households will return to their areas of origin, returns are likely only to areas where the government can guarantee security. Households recently returned to their areas of origin with access to seeds and land will likely reduce their dependence on humanitarian assistance with the start of the green harvest. However, most households will rely on humanitarian food assistance and market purchases to minimize food consumption gaps. Despite continued government efforts to reopen some essential social services, including electricity, telecommunications, water systems, hospitals, roads, and the revitalization of commerce in some conflict-affected areas, a return to pre-conflict economic activity levels is unlikely. Across Cabo Delgado, poor access to health services combined with the rainy season will likely increase reports of diarrheal diseases and cholera, likely increasing acute malnutrition rates, especially in children. In April, the harvest will likely provide only short-term improvements to households engaged in the agricultural season. In relatively safe areas, outside the area of concern, most households in Cabo Delgado are likely to rely on humanitarian assistance to minimize food gaps and are likely to be Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!), while households without regular access to HFA will likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.
From June to September 2023, IDPs will likely return to their areas of origin as they gain more confidence in the security situation. Additionally, household food access will likely improve slightly with the start of the main harvest. Although the harvest is expected to be better than last year, household food stocks will likely remain lower than pre-conflict levels and deplete by September. Households will likely continue to travel to try and resettle in areas considered safe or secure to rebuild their livelihoods or join relatives elsewhere. However, most households will likely rely on humanitarian food assistance and market purchases to minimize food consumption gaps. In relatively safe areas, outside the area of concern, most households in Cabo Delgado are likely to rely on humanitarian assistance to minimize food gaps and are likely to be Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!). However, at least one in five households in the area of concern is expected to continue facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes due to limited access to income and increased engagement in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes to minimize food consumption gaps.
Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Mozambique Food Security Outlook February to September 2023: Cyclone, heavy rainfall, flooding, dryness, and intense heat lead to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.
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.