More than 130,000 hectares of farmland in the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane have been inundated following heavy rainfall over the past few days, threatening tne rice, maize and beans cultivated by farmers there.

According to Francisco Feijao of the provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Food Security, the areas affected are Jangamo, Homoine, Morrumbene and Massinga districts and Maxixe City. He expressed concern that if the rains continued to fall with the same intensity, Inhambane’s target of producing more than two million tonnes of crops in the 2017 harvest may be compromised.

The National Meteorology Institute (INAM) had forecast that heavy rain, accompanied by thunderstorms and high winds in all of the provinces of southern Mozambique — Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane — and in much of Sofala and Manica provinces in central Mozambique.

INAM expected the rainfall to exceed 50 millimetres in 24 hours in the affected areas. The stormy weather could include gusts of winds of up to 70 kilometres an hour.

Rain is expected to continue falling throughout the country until Wednesday and INAM forecasts light rains in the northern provinces, but moderate rains in the south and centre, with localized heavy rainfall.

Residents of Maputo must be hoping that the heavy rainfall will ease the water shortage which has led to rationing.

The Umbeluzi River, on which Maputo and the neighbouring city of Matola depend for their drinking water, has been running at severely low levels, forcing the Maputo Regional Water Company (AdeM) to impose a form of water rationing whereby each part of the two cities receives water one day and not the next.

The situation can only return to normal if there is abundant rainfall in the Umbeluzi basin in Maputo province and in neighbouring Swaziland. The main source of water for the Umbeluzi water treatment and pumping station is the reservoir at the Pequenos Libombos dam, which last week was only 13.5 per cent full.