Southern Africa: Food Insecurity Could Hit 1.8 Million People

Maputo – The number of people facing food insecurity because of the severe drought in southern and central Mozambique is about 166,000, Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario told the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday.

Answering questions about the drought, Rosario warned that the situation could worsen if there is no rain this month, making even moderate harvests impossible. In that case, there would be a scenario of “severe food insecurity”, affecting almost 1.8 million people.

Currently the government is coping with the drought through the funds in the state budget envisaged in the Contingency Plan for the 2015-2016 rainy season, plus money raised in the national solidarity campaign the government has launched, and support from those international cooperation partners who work with the government in disaster risk management.

But Rosario admitted that, in the event of a deterioration to “severe food insecurity”, the government would have to reassess the situation and “decide what type of intervention or alert should be adopted”.

The government’s Disaster Management Technical Council (CTGC) will update the impact of the drought by 11 March, the Prime Minister added. On that assessment will depend the decision on whether to launch an international appeal to raise additional resources to assist Mozambicans severely affected by hunger.

Rosario said that so far over 584,000 hectares of crops are regarded as lost. The impact on livestock has also been serious, with the loss of 4,584 head of cattle.

The drought is caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon. This is the anomalous heating of the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean, affecting the circulation of winds and global weather patterns. Rosario noted that the current El Nino is the most intense for half a century.

He pointed out that the drought is regional in scope.

Thus seven of South Africa’s nine provinces are affected, with the loss of about 90 per cent of their maize production. In Swaziland, 360,000 people could be facing food insecurity by April, and restrictions have been imposed on access to water. In Zimbabwe, the amount of land under production has fallen by 40 per cent compared with last year.

“The accumulation of adverse conditions increases the vulnerability of the entire southern African region, due to the exhaustion of food reserves, the rise in food prices and a substantial increase in food insecurity”, said Rosario.

The north of the country has the opposite problem.

Here there have been heavy rains and localized flooding. Rosario said there has been no loss of life directly related to these floods, and he attributed this to preventive actions, persuading people to keep away from flood-prone areas, and the reactivation of local disaster risk management committees.

The northern rains cut some of the roads in Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces, but in most cases traffic has been restored, the Prime Minister said.

Cholera outbreaks had been reported in two northern provinces, Nampula and Niassa. Rosario said that, since August 2015, the cumulative number of cases diagnosed was 1,920. They had resulted in ten deaths and a lethality rate of 0.5 per cent.

Source: All Africa