Humanitarian aid agencies are $90 million short of being able to help those Mozambicans hit by the prolonged drought and expected floods over the coming two months, a consortium of agencies coordinated by the United Nations has warned.
Two failed rainy seasons in a row have caused a drought in southern and central Mozambiqu and left 1.5 million Mozambicans in a food crisis, the Mozambique Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) said in its most recent report, published in December.
The HCT’s current plan requires $179 million for its emergency response to the drought in the first three months of 2017, but it expects to need a further $32 million to deal with the fallout from floods that are expected to hit the Licungo river basin in Zambézia province, affecting an additional 190,000 people.
Against that requirement of $211 million, the HCT had received $121 million by the time the report had been published. Since then, the only new commitment has been €13 million ($14m) from Germany, according to Claudio Julaia at the UN country office in Maputo.
Southern Africa as a whole is facing “a funding gap of $550 million to reach people in desperate need of assistance,” according to Switzerland-based NGO Care. Care’s regional director for southern Africa, Michelle Carter, said on 10 January: “We are now approaching the peak of hunger, but international funding still doesn’t match the enormous needs.”
“Donors need to step up their funding so we can provide urgent food assistance,” she added.
Hunger exacerbated by conflict and economic collapse
There remains around 300,000 hungry people in Mozambique not reached by food aid, due in part to the conflict between the government and Renamo rebels in central Mozambique.
The HCT said it has reached around 1.2 million of the 1.5 million hungry Mozambicans, and hopes to reach 1.5 million by March – but by then, it warns that 1.8 million Mozambicans will be at the ‘crisis’ level of food insecurity.
“A smaller number of worst affected households, especially in the conflict areas, are likely in emergency,” the report says – adding that from January to March 2017, the number of people in crisis or emergency is expected to increase, including those potentially affected by floods.
The conflict in central Mozambique has restricted the free movement of food from the north of the country, which has not been affected by the drought, and restricted aid agencies’ access to hungry people in those areas. However, a ceasefire was put in place on 27 December and military convoys have now been removed from the highways in central Mozambique.
A combination of the drought and the conflict means the price of maize grain price is 120% above last year’s price, and 182% above the five-year average, according to the HCT.
The effects of the drought have also been exacerbated by Mozambique’s financial crisis, triggered by the discovery in April 2016 of $1.4 billion in hidden state borrowing. Government has had to slash spending, and a dramatic fall in the value of the Mozambican currency, the metical, means food imports – which even in normal years plays a significant role in feeding Mozambique – are out of reach for many Mozambicans.
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