Maputo — Almost 176,000 people in Mozambique, mostly in the southern provinces of Gaza and Inhambane, are facing acute food insecurity due to the drought striking this part of the country, according to data released on Wednesday by the Food and Nutritional Security Technical Secretariat (SETSAN), and the relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC).
A further 575,000 people are at risk of food security. That is, they currently still have stocks of food, but when those run out they too will be dependent on food aid.
Speaking after a meeting in Maputo of the Disaster Management Technical Council (CTGC), Marta Manjate, the INGC's Director for Arid and Semi-Arid Zones said the situation was now serious enough for the government to announce an orange alert (one step down from the maximum, red alert).
“Right now we should advance to an orange alert”, she said, “which means that very rigorous monitoring measures have to be carried out. With this kind of alert, we have to provide food aid to those in need”.
The latest data come from a SETSAN report which shows worsening food security, particularly in Gaza and Inhambane.
In northern Gaza, which is regarded as semi-arid, that are now 77,365 people in acute food insecurity, and the equivalent figure for Inhambane is 75,565 people. The situation has steadily deteriorated in both provinces since May.
The situation is less serious elsewhere - but 14,000 people require food aid in the central province of Sofala, and 9,000 in the northern province of Niassa.
The weather forecast for the next few months is not promising. January to March should be the wettest months of the year, but the forecast from the National Meteorological Institute (INAM) is that the dry conditions could persist in southern and central Mozambique for the next three months.
According to INAM meteorologist Acacio Tembe the forecast is for “normal to below normal rains” throughout the southern and central provinces, except for parts of Zambezia.
In the northern provinces of Nampula, Niassa and Cabo Delgado and the northern parts of Zambezia, the forecast is for “normal to above normal” rains. In those parts of the country, “we are forecasting some excess rainfall”, said Tembe.
The levels of northern rivers, and of the Licungo, the main river in Zambezia, could rise “but this will depend on how the rain is distributed”, he added. “If it falls in a very short period of time, then we could have floods”.
There would, however, be no such risk, if the rainfall is spread evenly over the three month period. Tembe said that, for the north, there is a 35 per cent probability of normal rainfall, and a 40 per cent probability that the rains will be above normal.