from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – DROUGHT, the coronavirus outbreak and conflict perpetrated by Islamist groups and militants opposed to a peace deal in Mozambique are forecast to drive high food assistance needs through May next year.
The northern province of Cabo Delgado is the epicentre of the conflict by Islamist militants. The crisis has escalated since 2017 and made farming unfeasible.
Information on the magnitude of displacement and food security conditions remain limited in some areas due to a lack of access amid the conflict, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).
The government of President Filipe Nyusi estimates that more than 435 000 people have been displaced.
“This number is expected to grow as more people continue to flee the conflict-affected areas,” FEWS NET stated.
Around 2 000 civilians have been killed.
Attacks by the so-called Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) Military Junta are increasingly frequent in central Mozambique.
Militants are targeting private vehicles, cargo trucks and passenger buses, creating a climate of fear among rural residents, who cannot meet their minimum food needs.
Farming is not conducive.
From September, prices of the staple maize have seasonally increased by 6-20 percent in most monitored markets around the country.
FEWS NET noted maize grain prices remained consistently above the five-year average in recent years following successive price increases after multiple shocks, including cyclones, floods, droughts and the conflicts, all which have affected production.
The risk of cyclones and floods is forecast through March 2021.
Pemba market, located in Cabo Delgado, has consistently maintained high maize meal prices due to increased demand as the conflict has impacted local maize grain production.
Meanwhile, in drought-affected central areas, including southern Tete province and parts of northern Manica province, more poor households are starting to face food consumption gaps following a failed 2019/2020 harvest.
Mozambique has also not been spared the impact of the COVID-19.
At the time of publication, it had 13 577 cases, including 99 deaths.
The Southern African country remains under a national State of Public Calamity.
Despite some relaxation in COVID-19 control measures, and the border reopening with South Africa, poor households continue to face difficulty obtaining sufficient food and income due to continued restrictions on the operation of small income-generating businesses.
The government’s National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) has requested around MZN 7,2 billion (US$99 million) to respond to assistance needs for the projected 800 000 internally displaced people in conflict-prone areas as well as those affected by COVID-19 lockdowns and in the event of floods, cyclones/strong winds and drought.
The number of those affected is projected to rise to 1,4 million people.
Around MZN 800 million ($11 million) has been secured through the state budget and the World Bank.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) also lamented that multiple shocks, including the conflict in Cabo Delgado, drought in the south, disease outbreaks and COVID-19 were compounding already significant humanitarian needs in Mozambique.
UNOCHA bemoaned that the overlap of conflict and climatic shocks with pre-existing vulnerabilities in the region—including poverty, marginalization and harmful social and gender norms—significantly heightened protection risks.
“Women and children are at particular risk of exploitation and abuse, including forced recruitments and sexual violence, in addition to lack of access to education for girls and boys,” the UN agency stated.
– CAJ News