- According to a newly released government food security and nutrition assessment, 659,000 people - or 3.8 percent of the total population - require immediate and continuous food assistance until the next main harvest which will begin early next year. Especially the southern region is affected by the ongoing drought.
The final results of the Food Security and Nutrition Assessment, carried out in May-June, 2003 by the Mozambique Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) were released recently, showing that the food crisis in Mozambique is graver than anticipated.
The assessment, which covered six drought-affected provinces (Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala, Manica, Tete) found that 659,000 people - or 22 percent of the population in the affected districts - "require immediate and continuous food assistance until the next main harvest," which will begin in January in the southern region and February/March in the central region.
Additionally, the Committee had identified around 254,779 people who were considered at risk and "must be closely monitored until the next harvest," according to a report released by the US agency Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS) yesterday.
- These people may be particularly susceptible to food and income losses in the third quarter of the year, when food stocks tend to run out, and prices rise, leaving fewer options for obtaining food, FEWS warned in its latest monthly Mozambique update.
Compared to the previous VAC assessment, which occurred in November-December 2002, the current assessment had shown a slight overall increase in the number of people in need. In Gaza Province, the number had increased considerably; in Tete Province it had increased moderately, and in Maputo and Inhambane it had increased slightly.
In Sofala, Manica and Zambézia Provinces, however, the predicted number of people in need had declined. All in all, the food crisis is most serious in the south, corresponding with the area of insufficient rainfall.
The results also had revealed that the majority of households interviewed have less than 6 months of food stocks from their own crops and about 65 percent of families have less than one month of food left from the main harvest.
- When the potential production from second season is taken into account, 75 percent of the families may have between one and three months of food available from their own crops, FEWS noted. In places where households plant in riverine and lowland areas, people's own crops however were expected to last them more than six months.
With the main season harvest completed, attention has shifted to the second season's progress. The second season is particularly important in the southern and central regions, and the harvest for this second season normally occurs between July and August. In recent years the second cropping season has been typified by many consecutive plantings.
As such, field sources report that the season is good so far and may help some of the drought-affected areas recover. Reports from the troubled southern provinces indicated crops were in "good condition" due to sufficient rainfall lately.
According to the government agencies Agricultural Services and Associaçăo Moçambicana para o Desenvolvimento Rural, possible good harvests could have therefore a positive impact on the food security situation in the months ahead.
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