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Drought and continued dryness contribute to Stressed outcomes in the south

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • July - December 2015
Drought and continued dryness contribute to Stressed outcomes in the south

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The majority of rural households in the country are currently facing Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1). Households are meeting their basic food needs through continued food availability in markets, access to a variety of own produced foods, as well as post-flood production, and in some cases second season production. However, very poor households in some of the drought affected areas in parts of Inhambane, Gaza, and Sofala Provinces are facing Stressed acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 2) and are in need of humanitarian assistance to protect their basic livelihoods.

    • The lean season is expected to start in some areas of the country in September, a month earlier than average. From July - December, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes will persist in areas in the southern region. Income from labor and other livelihood activities will not be enough to cover both food and non-food essentials. Very poor households will expand their typical livelihood strategies in order to meet their food requirements but with above-average food prices, they will likely continue to face livelihood protection deficits. 


    Current Situation

    • Currently, most rural households across the country are relatively food secure and overall the acute food insecurity outcomes are Minimal (IPC Phase 1). In the flood-affected areas, most affected households have moved back to their homes and others are being reallocated in more secure areas while recovering their livelihoods. Humanitarian assistance to the flood-affected population in the form of food ended in April when the orange alert was deactivated by the government.
    • Since the beginning of the year, much of the southern region of the country has received less than 50 percent of normal rainfall, affecting overall crop production and reducing it to below-average levels. The most affected areas include the interior of Gaza and Inhambane provinces, particularly in the Southern Semiarid Cereals and Cattle livelihood zone (zone 22) where very poor households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) - more detailed description of the prevailing and projected food security conditions and outcomes in the area of focus section below.
    • In May, a food security assessment by the Vulnerability Assessment Group (GAV) within the Technical Secretariat of Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN) including other partners and organizations, with support from SADC/RVAC, was carried out. The final report of this assessment is expected to be released in July. The assessment covered areas in ten provinces that were affected by this year’s shocks and the final food security outcomes for the areas were classified based on the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) process with support from the Global Unit of the IPC. The findings from this assessment are relevant for the June to August period.
    • Preliminary findings from the GAV assessment indicate that about 138,000 people are currently facing Stressed acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 2) and require humanitarian assistance to help protect their livelihoods. This particular population in Gaza (72,000 people) and Inhambane (66,000 people) provinces was affected by extended dryness last season until the end of the rainy season in April.
    • The preliminary production estimates from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) indicate that 2014/2015 cereal production (including maize, sorghum, millet, and rice) was about 2.51 million MT. Total production of maize alone is estimated to be around 1.88 million MT representing more or less the same as last year with a minor increase of 1 percent. The production of pulses at the national level is estimated to be 655,700 MT, a decrease of 9 percent from last year. Cassava production was 8.1 million MT, a slight increase of 2 percent over the previous season. The national food balance sheet that will show food availability and deficits as well as projected imports/exports during the 2015/16 consumption period is yet to be released.
    • The intensification and increased dependence on second season crop production (following the main harvest) is a livelihood strategy typically used by households in some areas to mitigate the shortfall from the main season. However, since the start of the second season period in April, conditions continue to be much drier than normal. Also, this year’s average temperatures have been abnormally higher when compared to the historical average. According to a quick analysis of average air temperature carried out by FEWS NET based on data from the National Institute of Meteorology (INAM), the May 2015 average temperature in Maputo (Observatório) was above the historical average (1984-2013) by 1.5° Celsius. These higher temperatures coupled with below-average rainfall have adversely impacted second season growing conditions, limiting crop production.
    • Since the onset of the main harvest in April, maize grain prices have been following the usual decreasing seasonal trends. However, current prices are decreasing at a much slower pace than usual. From May to June maize grain prices have decreased by 10 percent in Chókwe (southern region) and by 7 percent in Tete and Maxixe (central and southern regions). In contrast, in Beira, Chimoio, and Pemba markets, price drops from May to June were less than 3 percent. While in Nampula and Maputo maize grain prices stabilized during that period. On the other hand, maize grain prices have only increased in Mocuba by 12 percent in line with the seasonal trend and last year’s trend.
    • A comparison between the June 2014 maize grain prices and the five-year average shows most maize grain prices are greater than the previous year’s prices and closer to the five-year average. In Mocuba and Nampula, this year’s prices are 26 percent above the five-year average. In Pemba and Chókwe, prices are about 20 percent above average, while they are 12 and 10 percent above average in Tete and Maxixe, respectively. The exception to the above average trends, are maize grain prices in Beira, Gorongosa, Maputo, and Pemba, which are the same or below the previous year prices.  
    • In comparison to last year, maize grain prices in Chókwe are more than 100 percent above the previous year. This is because in June 2014, maize grain prices reached historically lows levels because of the well above-average availability of maize as a result of the good production during the 2013/14 season. 


    The Food Security Outlook for July to December 2015 will be based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • According to forecasts provided by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), there is an elevated chance for the continuation of the El Niño event through early 2016. Historically, the main impact of El Niño in Mozambique is felt during the second half of the cropping season (January to March). Based on analysis of rainfall data from 1981 to 2013, there are higher chances of having below-average October to December rainfall (<75% of average rainfall) during El Niño years in parts of southern and central Mozambique. This means that the start of the main season and planting could be delayed. On the other hand, during El Niño years the October-December period in northern Mozambique tends to experience above-average rainfall that has reached greater than 125 percent of average in some El Niño events. However, it is important to note that other local and regional climatic factors other than El Niño can also affect climate and change the expected impacts.
    Markets and Trade
    • At this time of the year the markets are well supplied by the recent main harvest of the 2014/15 agriculture season. During the scenario period the combination of last year’s carry-over stocks and this year‘s below average production, will bring maize availability closer to average. In the localized areas affected by this year’s shocks, it is likely that cereal stocks will run out due to below-average production, forcing households to rely on market purchases earlier than average. On average households start relying on markets from September and October but this year that reliance may start in July and August.
    • Based on historical trends, in July most staple food prices are expected to start rising in most markets due to the gradual dwindling of household food stocks from own production. With the exception of rice, it is assumed that food prices will follow a normal seasonal trend during the outlook period, but will remain above the five-year average. Since rice is imported, these prices are not influenced by seasonality and normally remain stable throughout the year. However, the higher than average household demand, particularly in the drought affected areas in the south and parts of central region, will push prices above the five-year average and last year’s levels. Maize and beans are the commodity prices that are most susceptible to increases. Further price increases during the outlook period may reduce the purchasing power of the very poor and poor households that need to purchase food from markets for their basic food needs.
    • Using the integrated approach, FEWS NET’s price projections indicate that maize prices are expected to follow the seasonal trend. Thus, prices will remain stable until August before they start increasing in September and peaking in January/February. The analysis shows that actual prices in June were 10 percent below the projected prices. Maize prices will still remain at their lowest levels from now until August, and by September prices will start increasing as market stocks decrease and household demand increases.
    • During the scenario period, the flow of staple food commodities is expected to follow the normal pattern. Essentially, the most productive areas of the central region will remain the important suppliers of maize to markets in the south, while productive areas of the northern region will do the same for markets in the north. However, so far the southern region has not begun to source maize from the central region. The major reference market in the south, Chókwe, is being supplied with maize from neighboring districts (mainly Guijá).
    Agricultural Labor
    • From July to September, agriculture labor opportunities for the second season harvest will be reduced in most of the southern region, given the dry conditions. From October to December, labor opportunities (including land preparation and cultivation) are supposed to start increasing with the start of the rains for the upcoming agriculture season. However, there is a chance for a delayed start of season given the forecast for the El Niño. Nonetheless, the agriculture labor opportunities are likely to remain close to normal in the southern and central region due to expected multiple planting attempts that usually occur during the bad seasons. In the northern region, the agricultural labor opportunities will remain at normal levels.
    Humanitarian Assistance
    • The humanitarian assistance levels will be close to or below the five-year average (260,000) in the country. According to the recent (May) food security assessment there are nearly 138,000 drought affected people that face Stressed acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 2), who require humanitarian assistance to protect their basic livelihoods and prevent from engaging in irreversible coping strategies in Gaza and Inhambane provinces.
    • Given the below-average production mostly in the southern region, delivery of seeds and other agriculture inputs is necessary and expected to take place in August and September. Distribution of these inputs is important for assisting households for the upcoming main cropping season particularly the most vulnerable who were affected by this year’s shocks.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From July to September the majority of rural households will continue to meet their food requirements through stocks from their main season harvest, along with harvests from post-flood planting and the second season. Food access through market purchases will remain as normal though the slightly above average prices may constrain the households’ ability to purchase more food from markets. Households in localized areas in Zambézia, Nampula, and Cabo Delgado provinces that were affected by moderate to severe floods and heavy rains in January and February will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes. During this period they will continue to rebuild their basic livelihoods, while consuming production from post-flood planting and through some market purchases. In the areas of the Southern Semiarid Cereals and Cattle livelihood zone, the poorest households affected by extended dryness since earlier this year will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) - see detailed description in the Area of Focus section below.

    From October to December, the country will enter the lean season where most households, especially the very poor and poor, will have exhausted their food stocks and when local supplies are low and prices for commodities are high. During this period, households will start expanding their livelihood strategies to meet their food needs. Overall, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected to continue in most of the country during this period. Some of the strategies that poor households will start employing during this period include reducing expenditures on non-food items in order to be able to purchase staple foods, intensification of brewing and the sale of traditional drinks for income, cutting and selling of poles and natural products such as grass, firewood, and charcoal, and seeking casual labor (i.e. land preparation and planting). Agricultural labor opportunities are expected to increase as the next start of the agricultural season approaches. Even with the prospects of erratic rains and/or delayed start of season particularly in the south and central regions, the overall agriculture labor opportunities will be close to average due to multiple planting attempts that usually occur during the bad seasons. In general the onset of rains in November will provide a variety of wild and seasonal foods that gradually improve food consumption among poor households until the green food becomes available in February 2016. In the areas affected by drought and dry conditions, Stressed outcomes will continue as very poor households expand some of the livelihood strategies to cover their food needs (see Areas of Focus section below for more details).


    Figures Seasonal Calendar

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar

    Source: Fews Net

    Current acute food security outcomes, July 2015.

    Figure 2

    Current acute food security outcomes, July 2015.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3


    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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