The US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) on Tuesday warned that below-average rainfall is expected to result in a poor harvest in the southern Mozambican provinces of Gaza and Inhambane, and the southern parts of Manica and Sofala provinces.
According to its latest Food Security Update, the lack of rainfall could even result in failed harvests and is likely to result in a level 3 crisis in the interior of those areas. The report notes that a delayed start to rainfall at the beginning of the season and significantly below-average rainfall since late January is resulting in the wilting of crops, with crop failure likely as the forecast rainfall is not expected to reach minimum crop requirements.
It adds that in the southern parts of Tete province food security will be “stressed” due to irregular rainfall resulting in multiple failed plantings. Households affected by the tropical storms Ana and Dumako will also face difficulties if they do not have enough seeds to replant.
FEWS NET also notes that some parts of Cabo Delgado and Niassa province will remain in food crisis due to conflict, although this will be ameliorated in areas receiving regular humanitarian food assistance. It points out that islamist terrorists “continue to conduct small-scale attacks and killings frequently, primarily in districts along the northern border with Tanzania”. Despite an improvement in the security situation, with some internally displaced people beginning to return to their homes, most are not returning with only limited participation in the ongoing agricultural season.
Despite these specific difficulties, the national harvest is expected to be near the five-year average due to good conditions in the productive areas in the centre and north of the country. One caveat is that delays in the rains at the start of the season along with abnormally high temperatures leaves some uncertainty over whether there will be sufficient time for crops to reach maturity.
The report notes that the Mozambican government and its humanitarian partners are assisting households hit by the tropical storms and the ongoing conflict in Cabo Delgado province.
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However, a lack of funds is putting the humanitarian work of the World Food Programme (WFP) at risk. Currently, it is distributing monthly supplies containing 24 days of calories to around 818,000 people in Cabo Delgado and Nampula. FEWS NET warns that although these rations will continue to be distributed until the end of March, there is the danger of a break in supply in May unless more funding is secured.
FEWS NET was created by USAID in 1985 to provide evidence-based early warning and analysis on food insecurity covering thirty countries. Its team members include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), United States Geological Survey, and the Climate Hazards Center of the University of California, Santa Barbara.