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Humanitarian food assistance is improving food security outcomes across the country

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • October 2019 - May 2020
Humanitarian food assistance is improving food security outcomes across the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Currently, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes prevail in areas of Sofala, Manica and Cabo Delgado provinces as humanitarian assistance continues to mitigate more severe outcomes. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) persists in southern semiarid areas as well as in parts of Tete and Zambézia. Humanitarian food assistance is planned and likely to increase in central and northern areas as well as extend to southern areas in November where Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are expected to prevail through May 2020. The rest of the country will be facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase2) outcomes.

    • Planned and likely humanitarian food assistance is anticipated to cover slightly over half of the food assistance needs from November 2019 to March 2020. Despite humanitarian assistance improving outcomes across the country, additional resources are required to fully cover the needs, particularly in parts of the country where Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist.

    • Market and household food supply are below average in areas affected by shocks in 2019. As a result, maize grain prices are increasing atypically fast and are 65 percent above last years’ prices and nearly 50 percent above the five-year average across all markets. However, prices of substitutes for maize grain, namely maize meal and rice, which are largely imported, remain stable and close to last year’s and average prices.

    • Land preparation and planting activities are underway in parts of southern Mozambique, where rainfall has started although erratically. However, given the forecast of an erratic onset of rainfall with below average cumulative rainfall for southern and parts of central regions, crop production and households incomes from labor and crop sales is most likely to be below average. Given the level of disruption of livelihoods in the drought and cyclone affected areas, seed distribution is crucial for successful planting and harvest.


    Current Situation

    According to the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) special report to Mozambique, the estimated 2019 cereal production is around 2.8 million MT, about 16 percent lower than last year; however, above the five-year average. The decrease in production is mostly from a sharp decline in maize production, estimated at 2.1 million MT, and an estimated 233,000 MT decrease in rice production, due to the cyclone-induced crop losses. Production of sorghum and millet is estimated at above-average levels, on account of the crops’ greater resilience to water stress and given that they are normally planted in higher altitude areas that are less affected by flooding. According to the CFSAM report, the central provinces, which are the main cereal-producing areas, were the worst affected by the cyclones. A smaller area of crops was also lost in the southern provinces of Gaza and Maputo, due to poor rainfall.

    Many households in the flood affected areas participated in the second season, as residual moisture was above average and humanitarian partners provided seeds. This resulted in above average second season crop production, particularly of vegetables, which contributed substantially to the stabilization of food consumption. Despite the above average second season harvest, these foods are consumed immediately and typically not stored for long periods of time. Household food stocks are below average or limited in southern semiarid areas, areas affected by tropical cyclones/floods, and conflict affected areas where households had limited or no opportunity to participate in the 2018/19 main season. During an early September rapid food security assessment in southern semiarid areas affected by drought, FEWS NET found that almost all households had limited to no food stocks, including middle and better off households. Similarly, a rapid food assessment in the central region affected by cyclone Idai and associated floods, found most poor households have limited to no food stocks which is atypical as this area is a typical surplus producing area.

    Major trade flows are occurring as typical throughout the country, but with below average traded volumes of food commodities in some routes due to the reduced crop production. Maputo markets and other major southern markets are largely being supplied by maize grain originating from the central region, except for a few markets in Inhambane Province, which are locally supplied. As typical, the central and northern regions’ markets are largely supplied by maize grain from local or nearby districts within the respective regions. While there are some flows from the north to center regions, the maize grain flows from north to south are relatively small due to higher transaction costs, except for food commodities with higher profit margin such as beans and groundnuts.

    In particular, the supplies from the southern and central regions are below average resulting in atypically high price increases. Cross border trade with Zimbabwe is typically low, although during economic crisis trade typically increases. This year, as result of the current macroeconomic situation in Zimbabwe, an increasing number of middle and better-off households are crossing the border into Mozambique to purchase foods such as cooking oil, sugar, flour, and bread. On the other hand, the typically significant trade with Malawi, particularly for maize grain, is currently below average due to below average crop production in the central region.

    In Beira, Maputo, Gorongosa, Mocuba, and Pemba markets, maize grain prices increased 35 percent on average from August to September (Figure 1). In Gorongosa, the national reference market, maize grain prices increased 51 percent from August to September. On average, current prices are 45 percent above the 5-year average and 65 percent above prices at the same period of last year. Both maize meal and rice prices, substitutes for maize grain and mostly imported, are relatively stable; however, 15 percent above the five-year average for rice and 8 percent for maize meal.

    The CFSAM report estimates nearly 19,000 cattle, small ruminants and pigs were lost due to atypical dryness and tropical cyclones, with most animal deaths occurring in Sofala Province. Additionally, approximately 22,000 chickens were lost mostly due to flooding. Although the number of animal deaths is relatively small compared to the total population. The direct household impacts with livestock losses is anticipated to be substantial as this is a typical part of these households’ livelihoods. Pasture for grazing is currently below the median in the south and average to above average in the central and northern areas, according to the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI, Figure 2). Livestock body conditions are normal, except in southern semiarid areas where livestock body conditions are slightly below average. Livestock prices are average except for few areas affected by shock, where prices are slightly below average.

    The 2019/20 agriculture season started with land preparation and planting in parts of Maputo and coastal areas of Gaza and Inhambane Provinces where rainfall started mid-October. In these areas, agriculture labor is mostly related to land preparation and planting. However, it is still early to determine if October rainfall is sufficient for successful planting and germination. Typically, by mid-November rainfall extends through the southern and central regions. Households are mostly using retained seeds for planting, which are typically of poor quality and less resistant to pests and diseases. However, poor households in drought and flood affected areas have limited seed stocks and urgently need agriculture input support. FAO has plans to provide seeds to about 115,500 households in central areas.

    Migration to urban centers within Mozambique, is taking place at slightly higher than normal levels due to the severity of drought conditions. The recent violence against African migrants in South Africa does not seem to have major influence on flow of migrants to South Africa as these phenomena are recurrent. According to the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC), in September more than 100 people have been repatriated back to Mozambique as they fled the violence, though this has drastically decreased from the initial estimates of around 500 people.

    In September, parts of the central region were affected by sporadic attacks by unidentified groups against public and private vehicles. Additionally, sporadic attacks by “malefactors” are continuing in parts of Cabo Delgado. The Ministry of National Defense (MDN) has released a press statement, launching a coordinated offensive by the Defense and Security Forces (FDS) against insurgents in early October in parts of Cabo Delgado Province. Although it remains unclear if this will have any impacts on the situation.

    According to admissions data provided by the Nutrition Cluster, the number of SAM and MAM admissions in Beira, Búzi, Dondo and Nhamatanda Health centers, in Sofala Province, have remained stable since mid-July and started to decrease in October. However, the number of cases remain atypically high. In addition, cases of Pellagra, a Vitamin Niacin (B-3) deficiency, have been consistently reported in the cyclone Idai affected districts. This may point to inadequate nutrient intake as a result of the consumption of poorly diversified diets.

    Humanitarian food assistance is now been transitioning to food for assets (FFA) programming. In the Cyclone Idai affected areas, specifically in Sofala and Manica provinces, from August to October, WFP and cooperating partners provided humanitarian food assistance to more than 500,000 beneficiaries. In the north, most of the general food distributions (GFD) for Kenneth affected populations came to an end in August. In September, the early recovery phase started through FFA programming, covering around 67,000 beneficiaries. Assistance to about 28,000 IDPs has resumed as of September, with IDPs in Kenneth affected districts (Macomia, Quissanga and Ibo) now being accounted for under cyclone Kenneth response.

    Generally, households are gradually recovering from the impacts of the tropical cyclones, with many households rebuilding their livelihoods in new resettlement areas while others are returning back to their areas of origin. Household food stocks are limited throughout the country and many continue to rely on markets for food, particularly in shock affected areas. In order to access incomes, poor households continue to intensify and engage in self-employment activities. The most common income generating activities include selling livestock, mostly chickens, and relying on selling forest products; however, competition and reduced purchasing power in these areas is limiting the amount of income earned. As poor households have below average incomes, poor households in shock affected areas are expanding their livelihoods and engaging in consumption based coping strategies to access food. Some common coping strategies include reduction of quantity and frequency of meals, restricting consumption by adults for the children, and consuming less preferred foods including wild foods.

    Humanitarian food assistance has played an important role in stabilizing food security outcomes and assisting households to recover. As a result, the cyclone affected areas are currently facing Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes. On the other hand, a second consecutive drought in the southern region is limiting household food access and as a result Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present. In the conflict affected areas, displaced households are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!), specifically in Macomia and Quissanga districts in Cabo Delgado where HFA distribution is ongoing. In the cyclone Kenneth affected areas, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are prevailing. The rest of the country is in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.


    The Food Security Outlook for October 2019 through May 2020 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • According to the recently released CFSAM report, the country has an estimated maize grain volume of 2.1 million MT, slightly less than the total estimated needs of 2.5 million MT. Maize grain import requirements for the 2019/20 marketing year are estimated at 208,000 MT. This gap is expected to be covered by regional and international imports. Mozambique has around 243,000 MT of rice available against the estimated requirement of 899,000 MT. The nearly 656,000 MT deficit of rice is expected to be covered through imports, mainly from Asia.
    • According to international forecast, the start of the 2019/2020 rainy season is expected to be below average with an erratic and late onset across central and southern areas. Cumulative rainfall for the October to March 2020 period is most likely to be average in northern and central Mozambique; however, in southern Mozambique rainfall will most likely be below average. Additionally, between December 2019 and March 2020, there is an increased likelihood of a near average number of cyclone strikes.
    • Low to moderate risk of flooding is expected during the entire rainfall season except for the high risk of flooding in the central and northern basins, particularly in Megaruma and Messalo river basins during the second half of the season.
    • Based on the rainfall forecast, favorable cropping conditions are expected in the major producer areas of Mozambique for the 2019/20 agricultural season. However, due to the expected below average rainfall, combined with two past poor seasons in south, the potential for occurrence of pests and diseases, including the fall armyworm (FAW) and rodents, in the semiarid areas of south and center, crop production is most likely to be below average.
    • Wild food availability will remain below average until the start of rains particularly in the southern semiarid areas with near normal levels from December through May 2020. The availability green foods is expected to be timely and close to normal in the north; however, below average in central and southern regions.
    • Trade flows of staple foods is expected to take place normally; however, at below average volumes in some routes due to the reduced crop production. The affected flows are mostly originating in the central region to the southern region. As typical, the central and northern regions’ markets will be largely supplied by maize grain from local or nearby districts within the respective regions.
    • Cross border trade with Zimbabwe will most likely continue to increase while below average cross border trade with Malawi is anticipated.
    • Maize grain prices (Figure 3) are expected to gradually increase reaching the peak in February 2020. Prices are expected to remain 50 and 80 percent above average and last year’s prices, respectively. For maize meal and rice, prices are expected to remain relatively stable throughout the entire scenario period.
    • Pasture for grazing is expected to remain below average in the southern region and similar to average in the central and northern regions. In general, with the start of rains in November, pasture is expected to gradually improve; however, in semiarid areas where rainfall is expected to be below average, pasture will most likely remain below normal.
    • From now until the start of the rainfall, livestock body conditions, particularly cattle, will continue to deteriorate as typical. Livestock body conditions are expected to gradually improve with the availability of pasture in November/December. However, in the southern semiarid areas, availability of water and pasture may remain below average, although with some improvement as compared to the dry season. As a result, livestock prices will most likely remain similar to average due to the expected average body conditions of animals. The livestock prices in semiarid areas are expected to be below average due to atypical livestock sales and below average livestock conditions caused by two consecutive years of drought.
    • Agricultural labor opportunities are expected to be close to normal across the country, although in the southern region are most likely to be below average. However, in areas affected by shocks, poor households are expected to earn their wages after the harvest through in-kind, cash, and other payment modalities.
    • Most households will most likely continue increasing their engagement in typical income-generating and self-employment activities; however, income earned is likely to be below average due to the increasing number of people engaging in same activities and increased competition till rainfall starts. As the rains begin, households are expected to start engaging in agriculture labor; however, to obtain some income for market purchases, households are expected to balance between the farming activities and self-employment.
    • Migration to urban centers within Mozambique, from October to April is likely to decrease as most households will be engaging in agriculture activities.
    • Due to decreased food access during the lean season, increased occurrence of childhood diseases, and the likelihood of changes in feeding practices as more households are engaged in income generating activities, acute malnutrition is expected to deteriorate from “Acceptable” (<5 percent) as measured by weight-for-height Z-score (WHZ) prevalence to “Poor” (5 to 9.9 percent) or “Serious” (10 to 14.9 percent) through February. However, from March 2020, overall wasting level in the country is expected to improve to “Acceptable” prevalence due to increased food access after main harvest season.
    • WFP plans to assist more than 850,000 people from November 2019 until March 2020 monthly, in Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia Provinces. In Cabo Delgado, WFP plans to assist more than 120,000 beneficiaries; 87,000 of which will be assisted through FFA in Ibo, Quissanga and Macomia districts with roughly, 35,000 IDPs assisted through GFD. In Gaza, Inhambane and Maputo Provinces, WFP aims to assist an estimated 225,000 beneficiaries through FFA and unconditional cash/vouchers programs beginning in November.  
    • Sporadic attacks are likely and expected to continue in some districts of Cabo Delgado. The attacks will most likely disrupt the ongoing agriculture season with some households most likely unable to produce own foods.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Poor households will most likely continue to expand their livelihood and coping strategies to meet their food needs from October 2019 to January 2020. The onset of the November rains is expected to increase the availability of wild and seasonal foods which will most likely gradually improve food consumption among poor households until the green harvest in February/March 2020. Humanitarian food assistance distribution is likely to help households meet their basic food needs in many southern and central areas and as a result Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) is most likely. However, a few isolated remote households who may not be reached by the humanitarian food assistance who may be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected to continue during this period in the rest of the country.

    Starting in April, most poor households will be accessing green foods and own produced foods, improving household food access. Apart from the green food, the majority of poor households in these areas are expected to continuing relying on normal livelihood and coping strategies. As a result, these households are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to None (IPC Phase 1) depending on the severity of their previous situation. The harvest is expected to restore food availability throughout the country; however, with the likelihood of a third consecutive poor season, many households in the southern semiarid areas are expected to have little improvement in meeting their food needs, and not likely to meet all of their food needs. In some of the remote areas, poor households are expected to continue facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In addition, in conflict areas, some poor households may still face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes in April, and possibly into May, since they won’t be able to adequately engage in normal agriculture activities for the 2019/20 season.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.



    Impact on food security outcomes


    Prices increasing to levels close to the 2016/17

    This will worsen food insecurity across the country as many poor households dependent on market purchases won’t be able to purchase enough food required to meet their basic food needs.

    Inadequate humanitarian food assistance distribution

    This may lead to even higher level of food insecurity than anticipated.

    Limited access to seeds

    Poor households may plant at below average levels

    Traders do not respond as anticipated, and no additional stocks flow to the deficit areas.

    Local markets would be undersupplied, thus pushing food prices higher than current expectations. Food deficits, especially for poor households, would be larger.

    Central Areas

    Cyclones associated with floods striking the coastal areas of Mozambique

    This is possible through March, some flood-affected households may still be facing food gaps until they recover through post-shock production beyond the scenario period


    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    A média nacional dos preços do grão de milho (MZN / kg) seguiu as tendências sazonais, embora permaneçam bem acima da média d

    Figure 2

    Figura 1

    Source: MASA/SIMA

    As Condições Normalizadas de Vegetação (NDVI), em percentagem da mediana, indicam que as condições vegetativas são más no sul

    Figure 3

    Figura 2

    Source: USGS/EROS

    (Figura 3) deve aumentar gradualmente atingindo o pico em fevereiro de 2020. Os preços deverão permanecer 50 e 80% acima da m

    Figure 4

    Figura 3

    Source: Estimativas da FEWS NET baseadas em dados do MASA / SIMA

    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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