Some areas face fourth year of food shortages

Early indications from two recent surveys suggest that more than 200,000 people in Mozambique will require emergency food aid.

In its latest situation report the World Food Programme (WFP) said the Ministry of Agriculture had released an "Info-flash on the recent Vulnerability Assessment [Committee survey] (VAC).

"The report indicates that 202,000 people are vulnerable to acute food insecurity. Of these, 108,000 people require emergency support until the next harvest. The remaining 94,000 people are at risk and may require emergency food assistance from October this year," WFP noted.

While analysis of data collected during the joint WFP and Food and Agriculture Organisation Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) continues, "early indications reconfirm the VAC findings, estimating that some 219,000 rural people in the districts covered by the assessment will require emergency assistance," WFP said.

WFP spokesman Richard Lee told IRIN that Mozambique had once again experienced regional disparities in this year's harvest figures - northern Mozambique had obtained a relatively good harvest, while "pockets of food insecurity" were expected in the southern and central parts of the country.

"The harvest in the south improved over the harvests of the last two years, however ... erratic rainfall left pockets where people are food insecure," he said. Other factors such as poverty and the impact of HIV/AIDS had also affected crop production.

"Many of these people now face their third and, in some cases, fourth year of food insecurity, mainly due to drought and, in some cases, floods. [So they] are in a very fragile state as it is, as they have used up all of their coping mechanisms and all their assets. On top of that is the general extreme poverty in the country, with 70 percent [of the population] below the poverty line," Lee explained.

Coupled with "high rates of HIV/AIDS ... every year it has become more and more difficult [to cope], as they have already been surviving on less than enough for so many years".