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Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist in Cabo Delgado through May 2022

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • October 2021 - May 2022
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist in Cabo Delgado through May 2022

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  • Key Messages
  • Assumptions
  • Key Messages
    • Most households in rural areas face None (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes as the lean season starts, supported by their food stocks and food purchases in local markets. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes persist in areas that have been impacted by natural disasters over the last three years, but outcomes are expected to improve in April 2022 supported by a forecast average rainy season and harvest. In Cabo Delgado, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist in conflict-affected areas where the IOM estimates that around 642,000 IDPs in Cabo Delgado are living with host families or resettlement areas with little to no access to their basic livelihood activities. In urban and peri-urban areas, most poor households are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as COVID-19 control measures and below-average economic activity impacts household purchasing power, with the most vulnerable households likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    • In Cabo Delgado, there are reports of some IDPs returning to their areas of origin to assess livelihood opportunities (agriculture, fishing, trade), the impact of the conflict on their properties, and the possibility of returning with their families.  However, most IDPs are expected to remain in conflict-free areas of Cabo Delgado through the 2021/2022 rainy season due to security concerns. In late October, the government began distributing seeds and other agricultural inputs to IDPs to increase agricultural production and reduce food insecurity concerns. However, humanitarian food assistance needs will likely remain high until at least the harvest in May 2022. The World Food Programme (WFP) is anticipating more than 930,000 IDPs and host families in Cabo Delgado, Niassa, and Nampula to likely require HFA through May 2022. However, due to limited resources, WFP plans to continue providing half monthly rations equivalent to 39 percent of daily kcals until January 2022. WFP plans to resume full distribution following the results of an ongoing vulnerability-based targeting exercise. Other humanitarian organizations are likely to provide food assistance to accessible areas in coordination with district authorities.

    • The forecast average rainy season is likely to support average crop production for the 2021/2022 agricultural season across most of Mozambique. However, there is a moderate to high-risk probability of flooding, which could lead to crop loss in the nearby lowland areas, including the Maputo, Umbelúzi, Incomati, Limpopo, Búzi, Púnguè, Savane, and Licungo river basins. To reduce the risk of flooding, the Pequenos Libombos dam authorities in Maputo have increased discharges by more than 130 percent to build retention capacity to accommodate upstream flows through the upcoming rainy season, as the dam is at 91 percent of capacity at the start of the rainy season.  

    • From August to September, the price of maize grain had a mixed trend, with most markets showing stable prices. However, maize grain prices did decrease in some markets by 6-7 percent due to local supply and demand changes. Compared to last year, maize grain prices in September are 8-27 percent lower across all monitored markets, likely reflecting the larger national grain supply. Compared to the five-year average, maize grain prices in September had a mixed trend with market prices ranging from similar to the five-year average, 11-25 percent below the five-year average and 6-24 percent above the five-year average. Maize meal and rice prices had a stable trend from August to September.


    Current Situation

    At the start of the 2021/2022 agricultural season, most households in rural areas are facing None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes supported by their food reserves from the 2020/2021 harvest, second season crops (mostly horticultural), and food purchases from local markets. However, in areas impacted by drought, floods, and cyclones over the past three years, poor households are likely facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes due to below-average production during the recovery phase. Across much of the central zone and the southern and eastern parts of Nampula province, income from self-employment, casual labor, and agricultural labor-key sources 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 household incomes. In Cabo Delgado, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist in conflict-affected areas. In September 2021, the IOM estimated that around 642,000 of the total 745,000 IDPs are located in Cabo Delgado and are primarily living with host families or in new resettlement areas. Most IDPs are expected to have lost access to their basic livelihoods and cannot produce their own food or engage in income-earning opportunities for market purchases. However, in late October, the government through the Northern Integrated Development Agency (ADIN), with support from the World Bank, have started distributing  12,000 MT of seeds and other agricultural inputs to around 350,000 beneficiaries. The distributed agricultural kits include peanut, maize, beans, and sesame seeds, and fertilizer. According to ADIN, around 37,000 kits will be distributed in Mueda, 6,000 kits in Chiúre, 5,000 kits in Ancuabe, 4,500 kits in Metuge, 4,000 kits in Montepuez, and 500 kits in Namuno. Additional distribution of these agricultural kits is expected to take place in Muidumbe, Nangade and Quissanga. The distribution of seed and agricultural inputs is likely to increase agricultural activity; however, humanitarian assistance needs are likely to remain high through at least May 2022 when the harvest is expected. Additionally, the government is planning to allocate land for agricultural production, however, the acreage is not yet known.

    Following the increase in IDPs over 2021 and the start of the lean season, household food stocks in Cabo Delgado are expected to be almost diminished with at least one in four households in Ancuabe, Ibo, Meluco, Metuge, Montipuez, Mueda, and Cidade de Pemba districts reliant on humanitarian food assistance (HFA) to minimize food consumption gaps. The presence of HFA in these districts is likely driving Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes and mitigating area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes at the start of the lean season as host household food stocks are likely low, and IDPs remain reliant on support from host communities, HFA, and market purchases to minimize food gaps. In urban and peri-urban areas, despite some relaxation in COVID-19 prevention and mitigation measures, most poor households continue to earn enough income from casual labor, self-employment, and petty trade to meet their food and non-food needs and are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2), with the most vulnerable households likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    The conflict in Cabo Delgado continues to be the main driver of food insecurity in Mozambique. Following the recapture of Mocimboa da Praia and the sacking of insurgent bases of Siri I and Siri II by the coalition of Mozambican and international security forces in late August, the IOM emergency tracking tool has recorded a reduction in population movements across Cabo Delgado (Figure 1). Weekly data from the IOM indicate that between September 29 and October 19, around 1,900-3,000 people were recorded on the move each week. With the start of the lean season, the lack of food is increasingly a trigger for the movement of populations across Cabo Delgado. Between September 29 and October 12, around 17 percent of IDPs reported a lack of food as a trigger for movement. However, between October 13-19, around 51 percent of IDPs reported a lack of food as a trigger for movement. This suggests that food shortages are likely to become a more significant trigger of movement over the outlook period if the number of attacks by insurgents on civilians declines.  

    The distribution of emergency humanitarian assistance is primarily focused on IDPs impacted by the conflict in Cabo Delgado. Most IDPs are unable to engage in their typical livelihood activities such as agriculture, fishing, and wage employment.

    Although there are reports of some IDPs returning to their areas of origin to assess access to income and food, damage to their properties and houses, and the possibility of returning with their families, most IDPs are not returning due to the ongoing insecurity, particularly following the dispersal of the insurgents from their previously held areas of control. In late September, the government approved the Reconstruction Plan for Cabo Delgado (PRCD) to help restore the social and economic infrastructure destroyed by the insurgents. The PRCD is budgeted for 300 million USD and aims to be implemented between 2021 and 2024. The approach for Cabo Delgado is likely to be similar to the post-cyclone reconstruction plan adopted in the wake of cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which hit central and northern Mozambique in March and April 2019. Around 200 million USD of the PRCD is expected to be spent within one year, primarily on the replacement of essential public and private services such as public administration buildings, health and education facilities, access roads, energy and telecommunication systems, water supplies, and commerce (markets and shops).

    In September, FSC partners provided HFA to around 881,000 people in Cabo Delgado and expects to continue providing HFA through at least June 2022. Humanitarian food assistance is also being provided to around 70,000 IDPs in Nampula province. However, due to limited resources, WFP continues to provide half monthly rations equivalent to 39 percent of daily kcals to all HFA beneficiaries through December 2021. In October, WFP began a vulnerability-based targeting exercise in Cabo Delgado to better target food assistance recipients who are most in need, with results likely in January 2022. Other humanitarian organizations are likely to provide humanitarian assistance to accessible areas in coordination with district authorities.

    In Mozambique, a State of Public Calamity continues indefinitely at the red alert level while the risk of spreading COVID-19 exists. With the end of the third COVID-19 wave, the government relaxed some measures, including setting a midnight to 4:00 am mandatory curfew in Maputo city, provincial capitals, municipalities, and towns. Stalls can sell food products, but the sale of alcoholic beverages is still prohibited. Operating hours for shopping centers and other commercial establishments (bakeries, pastry shops, convenience stores) were extended to 9 am to 8 pm Monday to Saturday and 9 am to 6 pm on Sundays and holidays. Bottle stores can also operate from 9 am to 6 pm but are closed on Sundays and holidays. However, all beaches in the country remain closed. Although economic activity is expected to improve, income for informal and small businesses remains well below pre-COVID-19 levels.  As of October 25, 2021, Mozambique has administered around 3.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with approximately 6 percent of the population fully vaccinated. COVID-19 containment measures continue to negatively impact poor households that depend on informal business income, driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in urban and peri-urban areas. Most low-income families are engaging in livelihood coping strategies, such as seeking support from wealthier friends, family, and neighbors or engaging in unsustainable alternatives, such as illegal street sales and illicit practices to earn income. Although the government is providing 9,000 MZN (141 USD) over six months to poor households through the National Institute of Social Assistance (INAS), distribution data is unavailable.

    Households with access to lowland areas with sufficient residual moisture are harvesting the second season crops, primarily vegetables. The second season harvest is expected to be average to above-average, supported by the availability of average to above-average residual soil moisture in most parts of the south and center of the country. However, second season production is expected to be below average in the eastern part of the northern zone following the below-average rainfall recorded in the area during the 2020/2021 rainy season. Second season production is an important component of food and income access in food-deficit areas during the dry season, particularly in the southern region. The second season typically helps stabilize or complement household food access and consumption levels in these low production areas. However, the produce (mainly vegetables) is typically consumed immediately and is usually not stored. As such, second season production runs out quickly in much of the country, except in irrigated areas where production can continue through the dry season. With the start of the 2021/2022 agricultural season, the water authority is increasing discharges in dams at a high capacity level to reduce the risk of flooding later. In particular, the Southern Regional Water Administration (ARA-SUL) has increased discharges in the Pequenos Libombos dam, which supplies the greater Maputo and Matola area, from 3.2 to 7.5 cubic meters per second as the dam is at 91 percent capacity at the start of the 2021/2022 rainy season. Additionally, the committee for the Búzi and Púnguè Hydrographic Basins are warning of a high risk of flooding in the coming months in the districts of Búzi, Beira, Dondo, Nhamatanda, Chibabava, Gorongosa, Mossurize, and Sussundenga in Sofala and Manica provinces, which could affect more than 1.2 million people.

    From August to September, maize grain prices were stable throughout the country except in the Mocuba market, in Zambezia province, where maize grain prices increased by 44 percent after registering an 11 percent drop in prices the previous month. The shifts in Mocuba reflect changes in the level of demand from formal and informal operators in the region. Compared to last year, maize grain prices in September were 8-27 percent lower across all monitored markets, reflecting the impact of a larger national grain supply in the current year. Compared to the five-year average, maize grain prices in September had a mixed trend. Some markets recorded prices 11-25 percent below average while others recorded prices 6-24 percent above average, while prices remained stable in other monitored markets. Both maize meal and rice prices had a stable trend from August to September, except for temporary changes caused by local demand and supply dynamics. Compared to last year and the five-year average, both maize meal and rice prices had a mixed trend.


    The October 2021 to May 2022 most likely scenario is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Average to above-average rainfall is expected across much of Mozambique between October 2021 and March 2022, driven by weak La Niña conditions from August 2021 through March 2022. There is an increased likelihood of an above-average number of cyclones strikes, given the likelihood of La Nina and negative Southern Indian Ocean Dipole (SIOD).
    • The national water supply is expected to be average to above-average, supported by recharge from the 2020/21 season and the expected average to above-average rainfall in 2021/22. The probability of flooding through the scenario period is average to above-average, particularly from February to March 2022. Watersheds with moderate to high risk for flooding include Maputo, Umbelúzi, Incomati, Limpopo, Búzi, Púnguè, Savane, and Licungo.
    • Although official estimates of agricultural production for the 2020/2021 season are not yet available, production in southern and central areas was likely average to slightly above average, except in localized areas of the southern region impacted by dry spells during the early growth stages of crops and flooding during the critical (flowering) growth stages. In the eastern districts of Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces, production is expected to be likely below average due to cumulatively below-average rainfall through the 2020/2021 agricultural season and reported pest damage.
    • Favorable cropping conditions are expected in the primary production areas for the 2021/2022 agricultural season. As typical, there is the potential for crop damage from pests and diseases, including the fall armyworm (FAW), grasshoppers, and rodents, though normal to above normal rainfall can help suppress the level of infestation.
    • Trade flows of staple foods are expected to occur normally at typical volumes along major routes in central and southern regions due to average crop production in the 2020/2021 agriculture season. As typical, the central and northern markets will be primarily supplied by maize grain from local or nearby districts, while the central zone markets will predominantly supply southern zone markets. In parts of Cabo Delgado, the flow of food commodities will be constrained due to the ongoing conflict. While prices for imported and processed commodities such as rice and maize meal are expected to remain more stable than bulk grain prices, short-term variations will be based on localized supply and demand dynamics. Cereal imports, particularly for maize and rice, will remain at typical levels.
    • Informal cross-border trade with South Africa is expected to be below average due to COVID-19 containment measures. The inability of most unlicensed traders to transport large volumes of food commodities across borders with South Africa is expected to continue to impact the market prices of imported food commodities, mainly in urban areas. However, informal cross-border trade with Zimbabwe is expected to be average to above-average through illegal crossing points, 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 even in the presence of COVID-19 restrictions, as southern Malawi is typically a maize deficit area.
    • Based on FEWS NET price projections, maize grain prices in the national reference market of Manica are expected to increase gradually, peaking in January/February 2022 (Figure 2). Maize prices will remain close to average in October and November but remain above average from December 2021 to May 2022. Maize grain prices are expected to remain similar to last year and even be slightly lower than the previous year from January 2022 onwards, driven by consecutive average to above-average harvests. Maize meal and rice prices are expected to remain relatively stable throughout the scenario period. However, short-term variations based on localized supply and demand dynamics are expected.
    • Livestock pasture across Mozambique is expected to remain average through the scenario period. Livestock body conditions are average and expected to follow typical seasonal trends. The average to above-average 2021/22 rainy season is expected to improve rangeland resources improving livestock body conditions gradually. Livestock prices are expected to remain close to the five-year average.
    • Wild food availability will be above-average due to the expected favorable agroclimatic conditions. The availability of green foods is expected to be timely and close to normal throughout the country.
    • In urban and peri-urban areas, poor household incomes from formal and informal businesses are expected to remain significantly below average pre-COVID-19 levels as the rate of unemployment remains above average. COVID-19 mitigation measures are likely to continue through the scenario period, although control measures may be relaxed based on advice from the scientific council. However, economic activity is not expected to improve significantly during the scenario period. Rural households are expected to earn below-average income from self-employment activities such as the sale of charcoal, firewood, and handicrafts due to low demand from urban centers.
    • In rural areas, agricultural labor opportunities are expected to be close to normal. As the rains begin, households will start engaging in agriculture labor opportunities. However, in areas affected by shocks during the scenario period, poor households are expected to earn their wages after the harvest through in-kind, cash, and other payment modalities. In these areas, households are expected to engage in farming and self-employment activities to obtain some income for market purchases.
    • From October 2021 to April 2022, migration to urban centers in Mozambique is likely to decrease as most rural households engage in agricultural activities. Generally, deportations of illegal Mozambican migrants from South Africa are anticipated to continue throughout the scenario period, reducing the remittances and potential income of affected migrants and their families.
    • According to Trading Economics, the MZN is expected to remain relatively stable through the outlook period and trade between 63 and 66 MZN per USD, stabilizing import prices for rice and wheat flour.
    • The number of violent clashes between fixed insurgent positions and military forces in Cabo Delgado has decreased since July 2021, both in frequency and in the number of recorded casualties. Following the recapture of the town of Mocímboa da Praia and other strategic areas that were in the hands of the insurgents by the coalition of Mozambican and international security forces, the insurgency will likely shift towards one of asymmetric warfare and guerilla-style violence. Violence against civilians will likely be concentrated along transport corridors, which are difficult to protect in their entirety, or in remote, rural areas where militants may have been reintegrated into civilian populations. Although some internally displaced people have begun to return to their homes to prepare for the upcoming agricultural season, the majority of IDPs will likely be unable to return through the forecasted period due to continued insecurity. With basic livelihoods disrupted, IDPs are expected to remain dependent on emergency humanitarian assistance to fill food consumption gaps.
    • WFP is planning to provide humanitarian food assistance based on its likely and initial funded plan to around 938,000 people in Mozambique each month from November 2021 to March 2022. However, this plan is subject to changes according to the availability of resources and the redirection of priorities. Other humanitarian organizations plan to initiate assistance, focusing on the needs outlined in SETSAN's forthcoming November 2021 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. 


    From October 2021 to January 2022, the lean season will begin in the southern zone and gradually extend to the central and northern zones in November and December. By December, most very poor and poor households across Mozambique will have depleted their food stocks, increasing their reliance on market food purchases. However, seasonal increases in staple food prices at local markets will likely impact household purchasing power. Most households will begin to intensify their typical coping strategies to meet their food needs, including reducing spending on non-food items, purchasing less preferred foods, supplementing their diet with wild foods, and increasing their reliance on market purchases. With the start of the 2021/2022 agricultural season and the forecast average rainfall, agricultural labor opportunities are expected to increase household incomes to average levels. Some very poor households will intensify the production and sale of traditional drinks, firewood and charcoal sales, cut and sell stakes or grass for building, and seek informal work to increase household income. The onset of rainfall between October and December is expected to improve the availability of various wild and seasonal foods that will gradually improve poor household food availability until the green harvest in February/March 2022. Nationally, acute malnutrition is expected to deteriorate from acceptable (GAM <5 percent) as measured by weight-for-height Z-score (WHZ) to poor (5 to 9.9 percent) or serious (10 to 14.9 percent) through February 2022 due to decreased food access through the lean season. Overall, from October 2021 through January 2022, most of Mozambique is expected to continue facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. However, in Cabo Delgado, the start of the lean season, below-average food stocks, lack of engagement in the agricultural season, and limited access to income-earning opportunities for IDPs and host communities is likely to drive Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through January 2022.

    Between February and May 2022, there will be a transition between the lean season and the harvest period. With the start of the green harvest in February and March, poor households will likely continue to expand livelihood and coping strategies to meet their food needs, particularly in areas where the recovery from previous shocks (drought, cyclones, flooding) has been slow. Most of the central and southern zone will transition from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) as households harvest their own production. Relatedly, from March 2022, the overall wasting level is expected to improve to acceptable (GAM <5 percent), supported by increased food access after the main harvest season. However, in Cabo Delgado, areas directly affected by the conflict or at risk of further attack by the insurgents will likely continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes as food and income access remains well below pre-conflict levels due to poor engagement in the 2021/2022 agricultural season, and limited access to HFA due to insecurity. In the non-conflict-affected areas of Cabo Delgado, high staple food prices, including maize grain, increased competition for income-earning opportunities, and limited access to HFA are expected to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, while areas where HFA is reaching at least one in four people, will likely face area-level Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes.


     Table 1. Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most likely scenario. 

    Areaeventimpact on food security outcomes 
    NorthHumanitarian food assistance far below needsIt may result in an increase in the rate of acute malnutrition and increase the number of people facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.
    North Scale-up of humanitarian food assistance in Cabo DelgadoThe scale-up of HFA is likely to improve household food access through the outlook period and lead to area-level Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes across more of Cabo Delgado. 
    NationalLimited access to seedsPoor households will plant less than the planned cropping area and miss the opportunity to increase their food reserves and income from crop sales. The reduction in the area planted will reduce agricultural labor opportunities and household income through the lean season. 
    NationalTraders do not respond to market demands as anticipated, and no additional stocks flow to the deficit areas.Local markets will 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 or conflict. Reduced market access would increase food consumption gaps among poor households. 
    Coastal AreasCyclones and floods striking the coastal areas of Mozambique The risk of cyclones and floods is through March 2022. The worst affected households will 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. 


    Figure 1

    Figure 1.

    Source: FEWS NET using data from the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix

    Figure 2

    Figure 2.

    Source: FEWS NET estimates based on MADER/SIMA data

    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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