Conflict, drought, and COVID-19 drive high food assistance needs through May 2021
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
The 2019/2020 harvest in drought-affected areas was more than 50 percent below average, confirmed by key field informants and the Water Requirements Satisfaction Index (WRSI), which shows generalized crop failure southern and central drought-affected areas. Most poor households have little to no food stocks and are market reliant as most were unable to engage in second season production due to poor soil moisture. Unable to replenish their food reserves, many poor households have been reliant on market purchases since March/April, much earlier than usual, with the number of market reliant households gradually growing from March/April through October. In rural areas, income from self-employment and labor, a key source of income for the poorest households, has been limited due to increased competition and lack of demand from urban and peri-urban areas where COVID-19 control measures have impacted mostly urban household incomes. In the drought-affected areas, household risk of food insecurity has been exacerbated in recent years as many households lost livelihood assets during the severe 2016 El Niño drought and have had little chance to recover fully due to subsequent droughts. Due to a lack of infrastructure and poor market access, some poor households are earning extra income through the sale of livestock (primarily chickens) or charcoal. Currently, most poor households are engaged in coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3), including reducing the frequency and quantity of meals, purchasing cheaper food, borrowing money and food from better-off families and friends, and consuming less preferred foods in excess, including wild foods which may cause health problems if eaten in excess. The worst-affected households are migrating to find better casual work opportunities, including the burning and selling of charcoal along the major trade corridors, but increased competition is limiting household income.
In drought-affected central areas, including southern Tete province and parts of northern Manica province, more poor households are starting to face food consumption gaps following to a failed 2019/2020 harvest, though area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are still present. The poorest households have been without food reserves since May and are dependent on market food purchases. Staple food prices are above-average due to below-average market supply. Households are increasing self-employment activities; however, due to increased competition, income is significantly below average, driving below-average purchasing power.
Households with access to lowland areas with sufficient residual moisture harvested second season crops (primarily vegetables) from April to September. However, there was limited engagement across the country due to the early cessation of rainfall during the 2019/2020 rainfall season, except for irrigated areas. Households able to engage in the second season stabilized or supplemented household food consumption for a short period; however, production (primarily vegetables) is consumed immediately and typically not stored. As such, second season production is exhausted across much of the country, except in irrigated areas where production and consumption is ongoing.
According to the Ministry of Health, as of October 31, 2020, Mozambique has 12,869 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 92 COVID-19 related deaths. Maputo city has recorded a rapid increase in confirmed cases, accounting for around 50 percent of all positive tests and 74 percent of total deaths nationally. About 87 percent of the cumulative hospitalizations are from Maputo city. The rapid rise in confirmed cases is raising concern from health officials that available hospital beds for intensive cases are reaching maximum capacity.
Mozambique remains under a national State of Public Calamity and at a red alert level. It continues to observe general safety measures, including mandatory facemasks, social distancing, closure of bars and informal stalls that sell alcoholic beverages, and reduced operating hours for markets. As a way of reviving the economy, the government gradually resumed some activities, but in general, these activities have little or no impact on the economies of the poor households most affected by the indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Poor households, especially in urban and peri-urban areas, continue to have difficulty obtaining sufficient food and income. Many are still unable to engage in normal petty trade and casual labor activities due to government regulations. Low-income households, particularly younger members, are challenging the authorities by engaging in petty trade or searching for daily income-earning opportunities at the markets. Other households have started small vegetable gardens in low-lying areas or are sending household members to stay with better-off relatives or relatives in rural areas.
Through the National Institute for Social Action (INAS), the government is planning to provide basic humanitarian support to selected urban households. Overall, urban poor households are continuing to struggle to meet their food needs through market purchases, with the worst-affected poor households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.
After the resumption of authorized border crossings in South Africa, Ressano Garcia's border post with South Africa reopened on October 1 for public use after six months of restrictions. However, border crossers must present a negative COVID-19 test. Limited access and high prices for COVID-19 tests restrict the number of people able to cross the border, particularly those from the informal sector.
Maize grain price trends varied in September, with prices seasonally increasing by 6-20 percent in most monitored markets. However, in Maputo, Chókwe, Massinga, and Mutarara markets, prices have abnormally remained stable or declined by 5-16 percent, an atypical trend likely to be a way of offsetting the less pronounced decline seen in the post-harvest period. In September, the maize grain price trends varied compared to 2019 and were 13-48 percent above the five-year average. Maize grain prices have remained consistently above the five-year average in recent years following successive price increases following multiple shocks, including cyclones, floods, droughts, and conflicts that have affected production. As typical, maize meal and rice prices remained stable in September. Maize meal and rice prices remained stable compared to prices in 2019 and the five-year average, except in Pemba market. Pemba market, located in Cabo Delgado province, has consistently maintained high maize meal prices due to increased demand as the conflict in Cabo Delgado has impacted local maize grain production.
The ongoing conflict in northern and central Mozambique, specifically northeastern Cabo Delgado and parts of Manica and Sofala provinces, is displacing thousands of people. In Cabo Delgado, insurgent attacks have been ongoing over the last three years, primarily affecting the districts of Palma, Mocímboa da Praia, Muidumbe, Macomia, Quissanga, and Nangade. As the scale and scope of attacks have increased, displacement has risen rapidly, along with the need for humanitarian assistance. However, information on the magnitude of displacement and food security conditions remains limited in some areas due to a lack of access amid the conflict.
Government officials estimate more than 435,000 people have been displaced, but this number is expected to grow as more people continue to flee the conflict-affected areas. Insecurity is causing thousands of people to seek shelter in safer places, particularly Pemba city, Metuge, Mueda, Mecúfi, Chiúre and Ancuabe districts, and neighboring provinces Nampula, Niassa, and Zambézia. A small number of IDPs have moved to more distant locations in other provinces of the country. Currently, Pemba city has received around 100,000 people, approximately 50 percent of its 2017 census population (200,529 people). The municipal authorities of Pemba city are working to redirect IDPs to neighboring districts, including Metuge, Mecúfi, and Ancuabe, due to a lack of available resources. The IDPs are being housed in 13 government-run accommodation centers including in the central zone, while others stay with relatives or informal settlements waiting to be referred to an accommodation or resettlement center. Currently, most IDPs depend on humanitarian assistance or goodwill for food. The UN WFP's operational plan for Cabo Delgado, which undergoes adjustments according to the evolution of the situation and available resources, is currently covering around 80 percent of the basic food needs of a family of five for 30 days. In the conflict-affected areas, it is expected that the disruption to livelihood activities is driving either food consumption gaps or increasing the necessity to engage in negative coping. There are anecdotal reports of households experiencing short-term wider food consumption gaps while fleeing to areas of refuge. Additionally, the same conflict areas have been affected with cholera cases since February, and as of October 27, 2020, Cabo Delgado has the fourth-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Mozambique and a cumulative test positivity rate of 6.6 percent.
In central Mozambique, attacks by the so-called RENAMO Military Junta are increasingly frequent, targeting private vehicles, cargo trucks, and passenger buses, creating a climate of fear among rural residents. Due to the insecurity and inability to engage in daily activities, an increasing number of IDPs in central Mozambique cannot meet their minimum food needs. In mid-September, the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) estimated that in Manica there were about 5,500 IDPs in government accommodation centers primarily from Manica and Sofala provinces.
It is expected that poor households displaced by the conflicts in northern and central Mozambique face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Most are displaced without access to typical livelihood activities and productive assets, limiting access to food and income. Ongoing humanitarian assistance benefits beneficiaries and prevents worse outcomes, but due to the complexity of the conflict and the rapid increase in IDP needs in recent weeks, area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes prevail. In conflict-affected inaccessible areas, some of the worst-affected households who lost their homes and their assets face food consumption gaps or an increase in the necessity to engage in negative coping indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4). However, information remains extremely limited, and it would be difficult to say with confidence whether some households are facing such severe outcomes. However, there is no evidence to suggest area-level Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are ongoing. Areas affected by the conflict in central Mozambique are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as most poor households have poor food stocks and limited access to markets or opportunities for agricultural labor and self-employment.
The May 2020 IPC Acute Malnutrition (AMN) analysis in Tete and Cabo Delgado province recorded Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM), weight-for-height z-score (WHZ), as acceptable (GAM <5%) in Mágoe and Mutarara districts; while Ibo, Cahora Bassa, and Chiúta were classified as alert (GAM 5-9.9%). Namuno was classified as alert (GAM MUAC 5-9.9%), and Marávia was classified as serious (GAM MUAC 10-14.9%). From April-November 2020, acute malnutrition was projected to worsen to serious (GAM 10-14.9%) in Ibo, Namumo, and Máravia districts and to alert (GAM 5-9.9%) in Chiúta, Mágoe, and Mutarara districts. In Cahora Bassa district, acute malnutrition was expected to deteriorate to serious (GAM 10-14.9%) in October. The deterioration in nutrition outcomes was mainly driven by the projected reduction in food access due to below-average crop production, particularly in Cahora Bassa, Mágoe and Mutarara in Tete Province, and the impacts of continued conflict in Ibo District in Cabo Delgado Province impacting food, water, and access to nutrition sites. Seasonal factors such as the deterioration in care practices of children and women during planting in October/November and the start of seasonal diseases such as malaria and diarrhea in October also contribute to an increase in acute malnutrition. The utilization of health services was already low before COVID-19 and contributed to poor nutrition outcomes, and fear of contracting COVID-19 has led to a further reduction in demand for health services.
The October 2020 to May 2021 most likely scenario is based on the following national-level assumptions:
- Forecasts available through USGS and NOAA indicate that La Niña conditions are likely to continue into March, April, and May 2021. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is currently negative and likely to remain through March 2021. Based on these climate drivers, average cumulative rainfall from October 2020 to March 2021 is forecast. A near-average number of cyclones strikes are expected during the scenario period.
- The national water supply is expected to be average to above-average. Rivers and dams across the country will be well supplied at average to above-average levels, except in the southern region where due to three consecutive years of drought, dams may not reach typical filling levels. The probability of the occurrence of floods during the scenario period is average to above-average.
- Favorable cropping conditions are expected in the primary production areas for the 2020/21 agricultural season. As typical, there is also the potential for damage from pests and diseases, including fall armyworm (FAW), grasshoppers, and rodents, though normal to above normal rainfall can help suppress the level of infestation.
- According to national estimates from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADER), cereal, pulse, and tuber production increased by 7.8, 7, and 13 percent, respectively, in the 2019/2020 agricultural season compared to 2018/2019 and the five-year average. It is anticipated that cereal imports, mainly maize, will be lower than last year; however, almost all national wheat and nearly 50 percent of national rice needs will likely be imported.
- Trade flows of staple foods are expected to occur normally but at below-average volumes along some routes in central and southern regions due to reduced crop production in the 2019/2020 agriculture season. As typical, the central and northern regions' markets will be primarily supplied by maize grain from local or nearby districts. In parts of Cabo Delgado, food commodities' flow will be constrained due to the armed conflict. While prices for imported and processed commodities such as rice and maize meal are expected to remain more stable than bulk grain prices, there will be short-term variations based on localized supply and demand dynamics.
- Cross-border informal trade with South Africa and Malawi is expected to be below average, partly due to COVID-19 containment measures that restrict border crossing and expected favorable production in 2020/2021. In the short-term, the inability of traders to transport food commodities across borders with neighboring countries is expected to continue to impact market prices. Particularly for food commodities such as potatoes, onions, eggs, tomatoes, cooking oil, frozen chicken, and various other processed products imported, mainly from South Africa, by the informal sector for urban and peri-urban areas. Mozambican maize exports to Malawi are expected to continue at below-average levels following Malawi's above-average 2019/20 season production. Trade with Zimbabwe could remain at normal or slightly above normal levels due to the increase in Zimbabwean buyers crossing the border to buy mainly processed foods in Mozambique.
- The reopening of some borders by South African authorities could result in a gradual increase in the movement of people and goods, particularly in the informal sector. However, the impact on incomes and the volume of remittances will depend on trade and job opportunities in South Africa. Generally, deportations of illegal Mozambican migrants are anticipated to continue throughout the scenario period, reducing the potential income of affected migrants and their families.
- Maize grain prices in the national reference market of Gorongosa are expected to increase gradually, reaching the peak in January/February 2021 (Figure 1). Prices are expected to remain 30 percent and 15 percent above the five-year average and last year's prices, respectively. For maize meal and rice, prices are expected to remain relatively stable throughout the entire scenario period. While prices for imported and processed commodities such as rice and maize meal are expected to remain more stable than bulk grain prices, there will be short-term variations based on localized supply and demand dynamics.
- Before the rains begin, pasture for grazing is expected to remain below average in the southern region and parts of the central region. Livestock body conditions, particularly cattle, will continue to deteriorate as typical. With the start of the rainy season, pasture is expected to improve gradually to normal levels. Livestock body conditions will gradually improve with the availability of pasture in November/December. However, in the southern semiarid areas, water and pasture availability may remain below average, although with some improvements compared to the dry season. Livestock prices will most likely stay close to average due to the expected average body conditions of animals.
- Wild food availability will remain below average until the rains start, particularly in the southern semiarid areas but will return to near normal availability from December 2020 through May 2021. The availability of green foods is expected to be timely and close to normal throughout the country
- Based on available information, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to continue through the scenario period. Incidents of community transmission are expected to continue through the scenario period, particularly in the urban and peri-urban areas. Though the impacts are anticipated to be minimal in rural areas, a likely increase in COVID-19 cases may affect the income earned from the sale of livestock and goods for middle and better-off households due to reduced purchasing power from the urban areas.
- In urban and peri-urban areas, poor household incomes from formal and informal businesses are expected to continue to be drastically reduced, and unemployment is expected to remain high due to COVID-19 control measure impacts on economic activity. With the continuation of the state of calamity, the government is expected to continue enforcing preventive measures such as wearing masks in public, socially distancing, and reducing the number of people allowed to work.
- In rural areas, agricultural labor opportunities are expected to be close to normal across the country. However, poor households are expected to earn their wages after the harvest through in-kind, cash, and other payment modalities in areas affected by shocks. From October 2020 to April 2021, migration to urban centers in Mozambique is likely to decrease as most rural households engage in agricultural activities.
- Until the start of the rainy season, most rural households will likely continue or increase their engagement in typical income-generating and self-employment activities; however, in areas affected by shocks, earned income is likely to be below average due to increased competition and low demand from urban centers. 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 engage in farming and self-employment activities.
- With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, international commodity demand has declined, putting downward pressure on energy and metal commodity prices. Forecasted prices for key sources of Mozambican export earnings are expected to remain below average through 2020 and early 2021 and are likely to take several years to recover to their respective 2018 or 2019 levels. These reduced export earnings coupled with reductions in other sources of key government revenues (e.g., tourism) are expected to result in the depreciation of the MZN against the USD in the remainder of 2020 and the first half of 2021.
- In northern and central Mozambique, the ongoing conflicts are likely to disrupt the start of agricultural activities in affected areas. Insecurity is expected to persist in northern parts of Cabo Delgado, and an increased number of households are likely to be displaced during the projection period. In the short term, a few households are relying on support from relatives in more secure areas, but this is not expected to last at current levels throughout the projection period due to a lack of support capacity. Households that lose support are expected to rely on humanitarian food assistance.
- WFP will continue to provide humanitarian food assistance based on its likely and initial funded plan for October 2020 to March 2021, which nationally covers 705,835 people in October, 861,135 people in November, and 725,535 people from December 2020 to March 2021. However, this plan is subject to changes according to the availability of additional resources and the redirection of priorities. Other humanitarian organizations are planning to initiate assistance, primarily focusing on needs outlined in the SETSAN October 2020 acute IPC findings report. Humanitarian assistance is likely to be focused on food assistance, treatment of malnutrition, WASH activities, and educating communities on COVID-19 safety and treatment.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
From October 2020 to January 2021, in southern and central drought-affected areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to become present in southern Tete province, southern and northern Manica province, and persist in drought-impacted areas of southern Mozambique as the lean season begins. However, humanitarian food assistance is expected to lead to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2) outcomes across most of the southern region. With the start of the lean season in October, poor households in drought-affected areas, due to a lack of income, will begin intensifying coping strategies such as reducing the frequency and quantity of foods and excessively consuming wild foods. Agricultural labor opportunities are expected to increase with the start of the rainy season in October/November, but income is expected to be below average until the anticipated harvest in April 2021. The seasonal rains will provide various wild and seasonal foods that will contribute to increased food consumption for poor households. However, poor households not receiving humanitarian food assistance are expected to continue consuming below minimum food requirements until the harvest starts in April.
In northeastern Cabo Delgado, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely persist despite HFA improving outcomes among beneficiaries. The increased flow of displaced households leads us to conclude current planned HFA will be insufficient to meet needs. In the inaccessible conflict-affected areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely persist, and conflict is expected to continue and increase the number of displaced people who have lost access to their typical livelihood activities and income-earning opportunities. In these areas, it is expected that some worst-affected households that have lost homes and assets, and face difficulties escaping to safe areas, are likely to continue to face larger food consumption gaps indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. However, it is expected that the population experiencing these severe outcomes will remain relatively low, and the area-level classification will remain Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
In urban and peri-urban areas, particularly among the worst-affected poor households, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely continue as the ability to engage in casual labor and petty trade to earn income remains below-average. The rest of the country will either face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.
Between February and May 2021, the lean season will end as the harvest period begins in April. During February and March, poor households will most likely continue to expand livelihood and coping strategies to meet food needs, particularly in the drought-affected areas. The availability of a green harvest from February in the southern region and in March in the central region is expected to gradually improve food consumption among poor households. Planned humanitarian food assistance in these areas will play an important role and continue to improve the food security outcomes to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!), while areas with less humanitarian food assistance will continue facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Starting in April, with access to food from the main harvest, most poor households will gradually move from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or None (IPC Phase 1), depending on the severity of their food insecurity. In areas affected by conflict, particularly in Cabo Delgado, poor households are expected to continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes due to an inability to adequately engage in normal agriculture activities for the 2020/21 season. As the conflict continues and the number of displaced people continues to increase, areas with substantial HFA will face Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes. The worst-affected households in the inaccessible conflict areas, will likely continue to face larger food consumption gaps indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. In urban and peri-urban areas, restrictions are expected to remain in place and continue to constrain low-income households' ability to earn their typical daily incomes. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely continue among the worst affected households.
Nationally, acute malnutrition is expected to deteriorate from acceptable (GAM <5%) as measured by weight-for-height Z-score (WHZ) to poor (GAM 5-9.9 %) or serious (GAM 10-14.9 %) through February 2021 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. However, from March 2021, the country's overall wasting level is expected to improve to acceptable (GAM WHZ <5%) due to increased food access after the main harvest season.
The government, through the INGC, has requested around 7.2 billion MZN (~99 million USD) to respond to assistance needs for the projected 800,000 IDPs from Cabo Delgado and the central zone, the economic impacts of COVID-19, and in the event of floods, cyclones/strong winds, and drought, which can affect around 1.4 million people. Around 800 million MZN (~11 million USD) has already been made available by the government's state budget and the World Bank. The remaining 6.4 billion MZN (~88 million USD) are expected to be mobilized through cooperating partners.
EVENTS THAT MIGHT CHANGE THE OUTLOOK
|Area||Event||Impact on food Security Outcomes|
Humanitarian food assistance far below needs
|It may result in the deterioration of the nutritional situation of those affected not covered and increase the number of people facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.|
|Scale-up of humanitarian food assistance in Cabo Delgado||The scale-up of HFA alongside likely increased needs would likely improve food access and lead to area-level Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes in Cabo Delgado.|
|Limited access to seeds||Poor households will plant less than the planned cropping area and miss the opportunity to increase their food reserves and income from crop sales.|
|Traders do not respond to market demands as anticipated, and no additional stocks flow to the deficit areas.||Local markets would be undersupplied, increasing food prices. Food access for market-dependent poor households would be more difficult, particularly in areas affected by shocks such as drought. Reduced market access would increase food consumption gaps among poor households.|
|Coastal Areas||Cyclones and floods striking the coastal areas of Mozambique||The risk of cyclones and floods is through March 2021. The worst flood-affected households would likely face 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.
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.
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