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Drought in Mozambique affects 1.2 million people

UNCT Mozambique
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  • At least 380,000 people are currently in need of assistance based on the SETSAN moderate scenario;

  • About 155,650 people received food assistance during February 2016 in Gaza, Inhambane and Sofala provinces;

  • The Ministry of Agriculture, based on the crop affected area, estimated that 261,000 farmers are currently affected by drought;

  • Updated forecast for the remaining period of rain season indicates that the rains will continue below normal in the South and Central region of the country;

  • On 9th February 2016, the Government of Mozambique requested additional support to respond to the current drought;

Situation Overview

The expected continuation of severe drought in central and southern regions of the country, as well as the heavy rains recorded in Messalo, Megarruma, Montepuez, and Muaguide river basins in the north, made the Government of Mozambique through the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) to activate an “Orange Institutional Alert,” on 15th January 2016 which enabled the activation of the National Emergency Operative Center (CENOE), prepositioning of means at risk areas, constant monitoring of situation evolution and providing some flexibility in the process of fund mobilization by humanitarian organizations to assist in response.

The WFP bulletin of January 2016, Southern Africa Growing Season 2015-20161 : Heading for a Record Drought Seasonal reported that the forecasts for the next stages of the growing season remain very pessimistic, raising the possibility of extensive crop failures despite some recent improvements in rainfall. The forecast for the JanuaryMarch period indicate markedly drier than average conditions in many areas of the region, particularly in southern half of Mozambique and other areas of southern Africa region.

The update released by FEWSNET in January 2016, reported that, the first half of the 2015/16 agricultural season has been extremely poor across much of the far southern and central regions of Mozambique, with recorded rainfall of less than 50 percent of average in large areas.

Regarding to the hydrological situation, the river basins record oscillatory water levels with downward trend in South and Central regions of the country. Furthermore, in the South region, the river basins record lower water levels compared to the last season (2014/2015) and El Niño year (1997-98).

The most concerned dams at the moment in terms of water availability are Corrumana (22% of storage capacity) and Massingir (50% of storage capacity) dam which the main purpose is to supply water for irrigation. For the Corrumana dam it is expected that there will not be water available for irrigation in the second period of current agricultural season (April – September 2016) and the in case of Massingir the current supply is being ensured through an emergency discharge through bottom outlet of the dam which is still in rehabilitation.

The current official estimated number of people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), requiring urgent food assistance, is 380,000 people in Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Tete and Sofala provinces. However, based on further analysis, FEWS NET (February 2016 update) estimates that approximately 600,000 people are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and need immediate food assistance, while another 600,000 are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) totalling 1.2 million people in food insecurity situation.

According to the ongoing food assistance plans and programs, which targeted about 155,650 people in February 2016, the gap was estimated to be about 56,255 people which are in need of immediate food assistance. Note that this is only for food meaning that the total people in need require also assistance in water.

As the current forecast is indicating that the rains will continue below normal in the South and some areas of the Central region of the country, the Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN) estimated that from March 2016 till the next rain season, the number of people that might be in need of assistance may vary from 380,000 people in case of moderate scenario to 1.8 million people considering a worst-case scenario. This means that in the next couple of weeks the ongoing assistance will need to be doubled in order to satisfy the emerging needs of the affected people depleting rapidly the current response capacity.

The agriculture sector in the South and Central region of the country is also very affected by drought as most of the population practices rainfed agriculture that relies on rainfall for crop production. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA), the most affected provinces are Gaza, Tete, Sofala, Maputo and Inhambane provinces totalling about 516,113 out of 530,000 ha and 245,473 out of 261,000 farmers affected in the country.

Note that the number of farmers affected are based on the crop area affected by drought, meaning that in case of crop failure those farmers will need some assistance in terms of agriculture inputs.
The cattle is also being severely affected and so far about 4,372 died. The South region of the country is rich in livestock with about 1,067,932 cattle representing about 69% of total effective existing in the country. The livestock in the country represents one of the main assets of the population in rural areas in terms of social and economic status. According to MASA, currently 28% of the cattle in the South region are at risk and facing lack of water and fodder.

In the weeks of 11 and 18 February 2016, the Prime Minister (PM) visited the three provinces most affected by Droughts namely, Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane aiming to see the impact of water scarcity in the affected population and agricultural production and how the provincial governments are responding to the situation. At the end of the visit the PM recommended to: prioritize the vulnerable groups (children, disabled and elderly people) in food assistance; conduct a comprehensive needs assessment as well as the response capacity of the province; accelerate the drilling of boreholes planned for 2016; continue promoting trade fairs in drought affected districts; introduce school feeding program among other measures.