- The rains in most of Mozambique have improved at the end of this agricultural rainy season. Nevertheless, rains have been erratic and most of Mozambique's southern region can expect harvest failures. The Mozambican north is still heading towards good harvests.
The October-March rainy season has been anything but normal this year. In southern-central Mozambique, a combination of prolonged dry spells and more recent flash flooding may have caused an almost normal total precipitation - but these kind of rains have been little helpful to achieve good harvests.
Although rains picked up in January, cumulative rainfall is still below normal in most parts of the country, with erratic spatial and temporal distributions, and long dry spells affecting the normal growing period, according to the latest Mozambique update by the US agency Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS).
Northern Mozambique - from River Zambezi and northwards to the interior and towards the Tanzanian border - has experienced a cumulative rainfall close to normal or above. Also the southern-most districts around Maputo have had good rains. According to a FEWS calculation, these areas have received enough rains to meet the "water requirement satisfaction" for maize and crops here are reported to be "progressing fairly well and are in various stages of development."
Worst hit are the southern-central provinces of Inhambane, Gaza and Manica. Also interior parts of Maputo and Sofala provinces have experienced significantly less rain than necessary for a mediocre maize harvest. Parts of all these five provinces can expect total harvest failures, according to the FEWS predictions.
In parts of the Mozambican south and centre, drought conditions have hindered production in a number of consecutive recent years, and this seems to be repeating this agricultural season. Southern Inhambane province is the worst hit. The few rains that have been registered here have come as torrential rains, causing floods and doing more harm to crops than good.
There is also, according to FEWS, a worrying water situation in the south, with most river levels below normal and below last year - which was a drought year. According to Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM), similar concerns are now also reported in the central regions, specifically for the Chicamba dam on Buzi River. This dam is responsible for supplying power to Manica and Sofala provinces, drinking water to Manica City and water to various irrigation systems here.
Possible food aid programmes to the drought-ridden areas of southern-central Mozambique have not yet been decided on. According to FEWS, a Mozambican Vulnerability Assessment Committee is now "planning a food security assessment in areas experiencing their third year of drought to determine the impact of successive droughts on food security and nutrition in rural communities of Mozambique."
Also the Mozambican government is concerned about the situation and is closely monitoring it. An Early Warning Department of the Mozambican Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is currently organising field visits throughout the country "to monitor the agricultural season and to determine the first yield estimates for the first season crops." The Ministry may later on decide to ask for international food aid.
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