- The 2003/04 agricultural season is reported to be evolving into what could give southern and central Mozambique yet another year of drought. Following a prolonged dry period in the region, rains were too modest and too late to produce good harvests.
The 'Special Agromet update' of January 2004 by the regional body SADC reports that the 2003/04 agricultural season could result in yet another year of drought in southern and central Mozambique.
An 'African Weather Hazards Assessment' report also highlights below normal rainfall during the 2003/04 rainy season resulting in reduced groundwater levels, low reservoirs, low stream flows and reduced soil moisture in southern Mozambique. All this indicate the coming of another drought, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
WFP field monitors and implementing partners in Mozambique had also reported that "most of the first crops planted in the southern parts of Maputo Province have failed and the surviving crops are severely water stressed."
In central Mozambique, which is normally very productive, poor rains have also compromised the current season. During the reporting period, heavy rainfall was registered in northern Manica and southern and western Tete Provinces.
- While pre-positioned commodities will ensure food is available for distribution to WFP's targeted beneficiaries, some food deliveries from the WFP central warehouses to replenish stocks have been halted, the UN's food agency reports today.
WFP, the Provincial Disaster Management Institute (INGC) and the Provincial Agricultural Directorate (DPADR) had also carried out an assessment of food security in Dondo District, Sofala Province. Dondo District was not identified as extremely vulnerable in the July and November Vulnerability Assessment Committee mission reports.
However, preliminary findings of the recent assessment confirm that this agricultural season has been severely affected by the lack of rainfall and indicate that approximately 30,000 people are facing severe food insecurity. Particularly vulnerable groups such as vulnerable children, people living with HIV/AIDS, the disabled and elderly may require urgent food assistance.
To add to the problems, the cholera epidemic has now spread into Nampula and Zambezia Provinces in northern Mozambique with three deaths reported. Previously, the epidemic was limited to Maputo City and Province, Beira City and Massingir District in Gaza Province.
The total death toll is now reported to have risen to 17. Maputo City continues to be the most affected area. Health authorities have expanded the Maputo Cholera Treatment Centre by installing 4 more tents to hold 80 additional beds. WFP said it had met with the Ministry of Health to discuss the need for its involvement as the Ministry expects the number of cholera cases will increase over the next 90 days.
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