Food Security Outlook

Food Security Outlook

October 2011 to March 2012

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • With the onset of  the lean season (October-February), the majority of rural households throughout the country as well as in the focus areas (Changara, Chemba, Mutarara, and Machaze districts in the central region and Massangena, Chicualacuala, Chigubo, Mabalane, Mabote, Funhalouro, and Panda districts in the south) are able to meet their basic food needs. However, most poor households have exhausted their food reserves and are currently relying on a range of typical coping strategies. In the worst affected districts of Massangena and Chigubo, current food security conditions are classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

  • For the October-December 2011 the majority of rural households will be in the IPC Phase 1, none or minimal food insecurity. Low-income and resource poor households may face food access constraints in the areas of concern, particularly the semi-arid, arid, and remote areas. Massangena and Chigubo districts will continue to face Stressed food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 2).

  • For the January-March 2012 period, under neutral to weak La Niña conditions, there is a low to moderate probability for the occurrence of floods along the major river basins. Low to moderate flooding in the basins would disrupt the livelihoods of the affected households. Crop production will be affected and possible effects of this reduced production will be felt after March 2012. Very poor and poor households in the flooded areas may need food assistance until harvested crops (following the flood) are available. It is expected that households, outside the flooded areas, will stay within the minimal to no food insecurity category (IPC phase 1) but requiring close monitoring, while most poor households in the areas of focus will remain Stressed (IPC phase 2) throughout the outlook period. 

Most likely food security scenario for October 2011 through March 2012

With the country in the lean season (October-February), the majority of rural households throughout the country as well as the focus area (Changara, Chemba, Mutarara, and Machaze districts in the central region and Chicualacuala, Mabalane, Mabote, Funhalouro, and Panda districts in the south) are able to meet their basic food needs. However, in Massangena and Chigubo districts, the population is facing Stressed food insecurity (IPC Phase 2), which exceeds 20 percent (45 and 44 percent in Massangena and Chigubo respectively).

The overall favorable food security conditions are due largely to existing food stocks from the main harvest of the 2010/11 cropping season and the availability of diversified food crops from the second season, including horticultural crops. However, some poor households have exhausted their food reserves and are currently relying on a range of typical coping strategies. The typical coping strategies include switching of expenditure from non-food items to staple foods; seeking casual labor especially for land preparation and planting, hunting and gathering wild foods from the forest. As the sale of own crops contributes very little to poor households’ income, they augment their income by selling a number of diversified forest and craft products including grass, building poles, cane/reed and firewood; production and sale of charcoal, selling of livestock/poultry, traditionally distilled alcohol, and other goods. Consumption of wild foods is expected to intensify during the lean season following the initial rains that usually provide a variety of wild foods. In some areas, gifts, remittances, and hunting play an important role in improving household food availability. Of note, is the increase in recent years of the production of cashew-nuts which has contributed to increased food access and income at the household level.

Findings of the countrywide annual vulnerability assessment by Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition’s Vulnerability Assessment Group (SETSAN/GAV), which will be released in November, will provide an updated estimate of the level of food insecurity and assistance required (especially in the areas of concern). Meanwhile, to verify the prevailing food security conditions in areas of concern, FEWS NET carried out a rapid qualitative food security assessment from October 10th to the 14th, 2011 in two selected districts, namely Panda and Mabote in interior semi-arid areas of Inhambane province. In these areas, chronic adverse agro-climatic conditions compounded by this year’s abrupt and early cessation of rains affected crop yields, resulting in reduced food availability.

During the visit to Panda and Mabote districts, FEWS NET observed that, despite these adverse conditions, the availability of diversified and multiple coping strategies have contributed to stabilization of food security conditions at minimum or no acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1).  Food is still available especially for middle and rich households, markets are functioning normally and are well supplied, prices have been stable and below those of last year, improving food access for poor households. Condition of livestock and pastures is also normal for this time of the year. Although production of cereals during the second season is not significant, horticultural crops are widely produced in areas with enough moisture content. In Mabote for instance, surpluses of horticultural crops and even maize are still available in the northern part of the district along the Save river. However, producers are facing transportation constraints to bring these surpluses to the deficit areas in the southern parts of the district. Away from the Save river, horticultural crops are also produced (from April to October) in the areas where residual moisture is available, especially in the lowlands, where small irrigation systems exist. This production complements/supplements the main season stocks. The two districts are potentially high producers of cashew-nuts and almost every household is involved in gathering, stocking, processing, and selling cashew nuts. Some of this is saved for sale during the lean season (October-February) to augment incomes.  The new harvest of cashew-nuts expected in late November and December, will play an important role in contributing to the provision of households’ food and income.  The highest IPC phase of acute food insecurity is Stressed (Phase 2) with most affected households being the poor and very poor especially in the focus areas. Nonetheless, populations in this category are well below 20 percent of the district population.

Elsewhere in the southern region, the late planted crops combined with the off-season rains and government efforts to intensify the second cropping season have produced good results and have improved food security conditions of vulnerable households during this consumption season.  While land clearing and preparation is near completion, the rains received so far (despite being close to normal), have not been sufficient for planting. In addition, since the onset of rains is yet to establish, lack of access to water- which can exacerbate food insecurity - remains a problem in the chronically arid and semi-arid areas. Provision of agricultural inputs, including seeds as has been done in recent years, is highly recommended again this year as a way to guarantee multiple planting in the event of false starts and early season dry spells.

According to the weekly bulletin from the Agriculture Markets Information System (SIMA) from the Ministry of Agriculture, issued in the first week of October, weekly prices have been stable especially for maize and rice. The stability in prices is, according to traders, due to the normal (free flow) of food commodities. The exception is bean prices, which have been abnormally high in Chokwe, Xai-Xai, and Tete mainly due to low supply from the local production and the high costs associated with moving beans in from production centers to the local markets.

The most‐likely scenario for the October 2011 to March 2012 period is based on the following key assumptions and some factors/events which will behave normally:

  • Normal start of rains in November/December. 
  • Normal start of land preparation in October/November, and the start of planting in November/December.
  • Seasonal climate outlook for southern and central zones giving indication for normal to below-normal cumulative rainfall from October to December 2011 and normal to above-normal cumulative rainfall for the January-March 2012 period.
  • Enhanced likelihood of occurrence of extreme weather events such as floods and/or cyclones. Most global models show that the October 2011 to March 2012 season will be influenced by neutral to weak La Niña conditions: during the La Niña events, the south-eastern Africa region may experience wetter than normal conditions. However a near neutral or weak La Niña conditions do not provide enough signal to precisely assess the weather scenario at global scale.
  • Normal onset of the lean season in October, and will last until the green harvest in February/March.
  • Sustained high food prices (remaining above the 5-year average) will reduce food access of the poor and very poor households and for middle households especially during the peak of the lean season (January-February).
  • Government and partners will provide adequate resources to meet humanitarian needs of the people that will experience stressed food insecurity -outcomes in semi-arid areas of central and southern Mozambique and in flood and cyclone prone areas.
Parts of the semi-arid areas of central and Southern Mozambique (Changara, Chemba, Mutarara, and Machaze districts in the central region and Massangena, Chicualacuala, Chigubo, Mabalane, Mabote, Funhalouro, and Panda districts in the south)

According to the National Institute of Meteorology (INAM) during the first half of the season (October–December 2011) the country will receive near-normal to below-normal cumulative rainfall in much of the country except for the north-most portion of the northern region where near-normal to above-normal cumulative rains are forecast. For the second half of the season (January-March 2012), the northeastern region comprised of the whole of Cabo Delgado province, much of Nampula province and small portions of Niassa and Zambezia provinces, has an increased chance of receiving near-normal to below-normal cumulative rainfall while the bulk of the country has an increased chance of receiving near-normal to above-normal cumulative rainfall. This seasonal climate outlook does not take into account potential excessive rainfall that may occur due to tropical cyclones. Tropical disturbances, including cyclone conditions and other locally driven weather systems, cannot be accurately predicted on a seasonal basis. According to the satellite historical rainfall estimates, the average start of rains is mid-November across much of the country. However, for Maputo and the southern part of Gaza province, rains normally start in early November. In the north and parts of the centre, the season normally starts towards the end of December.

High food prices (above the 5-year average) are expected to prevail throughout the outlook period which may reduce food access for the poor and very poor and middle households. Effects of high food prices will be more pronounced in the December to February period when food prices are at their peak, which is the time when most food reserves will have been exhausted and most households turn to markets to source food. Markets are expected to play an important role in improving food access over the outlook period. In general, prices of staples (maize and rice) are expected to remain stable throughout the remaining consumption period.

From October to December 2011, the majority of rural households will be food secure. Low-income and resource poor households may face food access constraints in some areas, particularly the semi-arid, arid, and remote areas. Food stocks from the main season and second season production, combined with market purchases will be the primary sources of food. This will be complemented by typical coping strategies to meet basic food needs including increased sale of livestock by the wealthier households. Able-bodied household members will seek casual labor, especially for land preparation and planting. The poor and very poor will employ a variety of diversified typical coping strategies which include increased hunting, sales of natural products such as grass, building poles, cane/reed and firewood; production and sale of charcoal, selling of poultry, traditionally distilled alcohol, and other goods/craft. Consumption of wild foods is expected to intensify as the lean season begins to peak in December/January. Some households especially those in parts of the south will receive gifts and remittances from relatives living in major urban centers and in South Africa. As rains gradually start from October/November, water availability for both humans and animals will gradually improve. Timely and adequate provision of agriculture inputs will help households to plant timely and increase planted area. Food assistance will be necessary to mitigate identified pockets of food insecurity according to the GAV outcomes and recommendations. The highest IPC phase of food security conditions for the poor and very poor households in the focus areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

During the January to March 2012 period, there is a low to moderate probability for the occurrence of floods along the major river basins (Zambezi, Limpopo, Búzi, Púngoè, Incomati and Maputo basins), and districts of Changara, Chemba, Machaze Massangena and Mutarara, are of concern. Low to moderate flooding in the basins could disrupt the livelihoods of the affected households. Crop production along the riverbanks will be affected and possibly reduce production, which will be felt after March 2012. In the period before March 2012, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure may be partially or totally impassable and/or destroyed. Flood water will endanger human and animal life and some displaced households will require emergency evacuation to secure places. Displaced households, particularly the poor and very poor, will face Stressed food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) outcomes and may need urgent humanitarian assistance including mainly shelter, food aid, health and sanitation care, because of the anticipated impact of floods on infrastructure, market access and food prices. The number of affected households is expected to be relatively low due to the resettlement of at-risk population carried out in previous severe floods by the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC). Adequate response to the flood will mitigate impacts and households will be able to recover after recession of flood water.

Outside the flooded areas, green food and early harvested crops will stabilize and gradually increase food access. In general, the onset of rains in November normally provides a variety of wild foods that gradually improve food access until the seasonal green foods become available in January/February. Seasonal fruits such as mangoes, cashew-nuts will be available until January/February. It is expected that the poor and very poor households, within the focus area, will face stressed food security conditions (IPC Phase 2).

Throughout the outlook period (October 2011 to March 2012), prices of most commodities are expected to remain stable except for beans whose prices are likely to remain volatile in line with availability of supplies on the local markets.  In general prices will follow seasonal trends, remaining above the five-year average but close to or similar to last year’s prices. The stability of maize and rice prices throughout the consumption period is crucial in ensuring food access for the majority of households that are gradually turning to markets as households food stocks get exhausted, especially as the country has entered the lean season.

Coastal districts of Mozambique

In the districts vulnerable to strong winds and cyclones, such as those 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), there is always a probability of the occurrence of cyclones from November to March. On average, one cyclone hits Mozambique per year and tropical disturbances of a lesser-magnitude hit three to four times per year between November and March. The most frequent destination of cyclones 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, and infrastructure. High winds can impact the area with flying objects, damage to structures, damage to power and telephone lines, destruction of standing crops, damage to orchards and trees, and transportation blockages due to fallen trees or debris. A cyclone will induce flooding that could cause drowning of humans and animals, flood damage to structures, possible landslides, damage to crops (especially tubers). A cyclone is also associated with the occurrence of storm surges which can cause rapid flooding near the coastline, scouring and erosion of topsoil, and increases in the salinity in sub-surface water which destroys most crops. In the event of a storm or cyclone, the majority of households will remain food secure from January to March, a period at the end of the cyclone season when historically the impacts of cyclones are less severe or no longer felt. The poorest households in particular may face acute food shortages (stressed food security conditions IPC Phase 2). Necessary interventions would likely include provision of shelter, food, water, and sanitation services and facilities. In the short-term, all households (including self recovering and those receiving assistance) will be able to meet their food security requirements, and in the short to medium-term they will be able to recover/rehabilitate their destroyed houses and livelihoods.

Table 1. Less likely events over the next six months that could change the above scenarios
Area Event Impact on food security outcomes
Semi arid areas of south and central Mozambique
  • Late start of season rainfall.
  • Will delay the main season planting and access to water, which can exacerbate current food insecurity.
  • Traders do not respond as anticipated and no additional stocks flow to the deficit areas.
  • Local markets would be undersupplied, pushing food prices higher than current expectations. Food deficits, especially for poor households, would be larger, particularly at the peak of the lean season. 
  • Inadequate input supply.
  • Inadequate input availability will prevent households from benefiting from the expected favorable agro climatic conditions.
  • No adequate response to humanitarian assistance.
  • Failure to respond in a timely fashion will cause poorer households to begin employing negative and even extreme coping strategies, including consumption of improper food on a large scale such as wild foods that are highly toxic.
  • Early cessation of rains.
  • Early cessation of rains. This could limit the second season production (expected in the next Outlook period since much of the second season production relies on the residual moisture from the main rainy season from October to April.

 

About Scenario Development

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.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
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