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El Niño conditions may prolong Stressed outcomes in parts of the southern region

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • October 2015 - March 2016
El Niño conditions may prolong Stressed outcomes in parts of the southern region

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Currently, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are generally found across the country. However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes prevail in the areas of concern in some semi-arid areas, including districts in Gaza and Inhambane provinces and Sofala province. Social safety-net programming and humanitarian assistance is currently ongoing in the areas of concern and is expected to continue until the next harvest in March/April 2016. 

    • From October to December 2015, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes will continue throughout most of the country, with the exception of areas in the interior of Gaza, Inhambane, and southern Sofala provinces, where Stressed (IPC Phase 2 and 2!) outcomes will occur. From January to March 2016 the upcoming rainfall season will likely improve the water shortages in the areas of concern, but poor households will continue to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2 and 2!) until the harvest in March/April.  

    • Cereal volumes are below average in most markets and prices are well above the five year average, limiting purchasing power for poor households. However, stocks of maize meal, a preferred maize grain alternative, are normal in markets and prices are stable and near average.

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    • The lean season has begun in most parts of the rural south and central zones and is expected to begin in the northern zone in December. Currently, the majority of rural households are able to meet their basic food needs and are facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes. This is due largely to the availability of own produced maize stocks at the household level, second season vegetable production, and through food purchases from markets.
    • The 2015/16 cropping season has officially started. Land preparation started in most areas in the south and parts of the central region, while in the north land preparation activities are expected to start in November.
    • The second season production that is usually practiced in the lowlands, was below average this year due to low residual moisture and rainfall during the dry season. Exceptions include areas with irrigation systems and along some river basins where water is available for growing maize grain and horticulture crops.
    • The majority of households affected by localized floods and heavy rains in parts of the central and northern zones have recovered thanks to a combination of targeted humanitarian assistance, post flood planting/harvest, and second season production.
    • Volumes of staple food and commodities are adequately supplied in most monitored market, with the exception of maize grain which is below average. Maize grain prices between August and September continued to follow an increasing trend in most markets and remained stable in others. A substantial price increase occurred in Gorongosa, a reference producer market. This increase reflected a decline in maize stocks due to increased demand from the central and southern regions.  
    • A comparison between this year’s prices and the five year average shows that current prices are above average in all markets except in Maputo. This general trend reflects the difference between last year’s good production levels and the below average production during the 2014/15 season.


    The Food Security Outlook for October 2015 to March 2016 will be based on the following national-level assumptions:


    • The 2015/16 seasonal forecast released by the National Institute of Meteorology (INAM) indicates that from October to December 2015, the bulk of the country, with the exception of the north, has increased chances of receiving near-normal to below-normal rainfall. According to the INAM forecast, the northern portion of the country (Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Nampula and northern of Zambézia provinces) is expecting near-normal to above-normal rains during this period. In the second half of the season (January to March 2016) there are increased chances for the occurrence of near-normal to above-normal rainfall in northern of the country, while in south and central Mozambique there are increased chances that the rainfall received will be near-normal to below-normal.  
    • According to INAM, and based on the climatology, the cumulative amount of rainfall from October to December in the south and central region is expected to be 220 mm and 380 mm respectively. From January to March, the cumulative rainfall expected is to be around 350-400 mm in the south and 550-750 mm in the central zone. However, the presence of El Niño may lead to unevenly distributed rainfall patterns in traditionally El Niño affected areas, especially in the south.
    • Based on historical data (Figure 1), it is expected that seasonal rains will start in the south and will move towards the north between November and December. The start of the rains in November will enable the majority of households to be engaged in planting for the main 2015/16 agriculture season, particularly in the north. These initial rains will also provide access to wild foods, which are typically consumed during this time of the year.
    • For the northern region, the forecast of normal to above-normal rains in the north may increase chances of localized flooding from January to March, in some of the flood-prone areas along the major river basins. According to National directorate of Water (DNA) there is a high risk of flooding in northern river basins, particularly in Licungo. During the second half of the season high flood risk is also expected in the Púnguè, Inhanombe, and Mutamba rivers. Moderate to high flood risk is forecast in Maputo, Umbeluzi, Incomati, Zambeze, Ligonha, Meluli, Melela, Messalo, Montepuêz, Megaruma, and Rovuma river basins.
    • The analysis from the National Directorate of Agriculture and Silviculture (DINAS) from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA), suggests that from October to December, the expected rainfall will be enough to meet 70 percent of the crop water requirement in most of the country. From January to March, the crop water requirement index is expected to improve in most of the central and the entire northern region. Based on this analysis, a favorable cropping season is likely in the northern and central regions given the expected improvement of rainfall expected in the second half of the 2015/16 season. In the southern region, the rainfall forecast will be only meet up to 50 percent of crop water requirement during the first half of the season (October to December 2015) and is expected to improve to 80 percent during the second half of the season (January to March 2016).

    Markets and Trade

    • Maize grain market supplies from the 2014/15 main and second seasons are below average. Due to these below average supplies, maize grain prices began increasing in August, 1-2 months earlier than expected, due to higher than average household demand. Based on FEWS NET’s fundamental and technical analysis, these prices are currently above the five-year average in most monitored markets and are expected to increase by about 15 percent or possibly higher between October and January. Maize grain prices are expected to peak in February, right before the seasonal harvest starts in March in the southern region and in April/May in the central and northern regions.
    • According to the Agricultural Markets Information System (SIMA), following seasonal trends, the volumes of maize grain moved from the central region to the southern region has been gradually dwindling, reducing this supply source in the southern markets. At the end of March and the beginning of April, new supplies will start entering the markets.

    Agricultural Labor Demand and Wages

    • Income earning opportunities from agricultural labor is expected to remain at normal levels in all three regions of the country, even with the prospects of erratic rains and/or delayed start in the southern region and parts of the central region. This is because it is assumed that farmers will make multiple planting attempts. In the past, this is what usually happens. From October to December, opportunities are expected to increase with the start of the main agricultural season and will include land preparation and planting. From January to March opportunities for labor will be offered, particularly for weeding and harvesting.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From October to December 2015, the country will enter the lean season where most households will have exhausted their own produced food stocks, local food supplies are low, and prices for commodities are high. During this period, households will start expanding their livelihood strategies to meet their food needs. Overall, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected to continue in most of the country during this period. Some of the strategies that poor households will start employing during this period include reducing expenditures on non-food items in order to be able to purchase staple foods, intensification of brewing and the sale of traditional drinks for income, cutting and selling of poles and natural products, firewood, charcoal, and seeking casual farm labor (i.e. land preparation and planting). Agricultural labor opportunities are expected to increase as the next start of the agricultural season approaches. Even with the prospects of erratic rains and/or delayed start of season in the south and central regions, the overall agriculture labor opportunities will be close to average due to multiple planting attempts that usually occur during the bad seasons. In general the onset of rains in November will provide a variety of wild and seasonal foods that will gradually improve food consumption among poor households until the green food becomes available in February 2016. In the areas affected by drought and dry conditions during the previous season, Stressed (IPC Phase 2 and 2!) outcomes will continue as poor and very poor households expand their livelihood strategies to cover their food needs (see Areas of Focus section below for more details).

    During the January to March 2016 period, there is a high probability for the occurrence of floods along the major river basins in the north and central regions. This is the case particularly along the Licungo, Púnguè, Inhanombe, and Mutamba rivers and moderate to high flood risk is possible along the Maputo, Umbeluzi, Incomati, Zambeze, Ligonha, Meluli, Melela, Messalo, Montepuêz, Megaruma, and Rovuma river basins. 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 reduced, which would have much more of an impact on food security after March 2016. Displaced households, particularly the poor and very poor, may face Stressed food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) outcomes and may need humanitarian assistance. Outside the flooded areas, green foods and early harvested crops, combined with the seasonal wild foods, will improve food availability. Seasonal fruits including mangoes and cashew-nuts will be available in January/February. The overall acute food insecurity outcomes will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1). However, in the previously drought affected areas in the south, Stressed outcomes (IPC Phase 2 and 2!) will continue as very poor households begin to access seasonal foods combined with humanitarian assistance distributions (see Areas of Focus section below for more details).

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year


    Situação actual de insegurança alimentar aguda, Outubro de 2015.

    Figure 2

    Situação actual de insegurança alimentar aguda, Outubro de 2015.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figura 1. Mediana histórica do início da época (2001-2014)

    Figure 3

    Figura 1. Mediana histórica do início da época (2001-2014)

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Figure 4


    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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