Nearly three million people in Mozambique faced a food crisis or an emergency in 2021, the highest number since the 2016 drought, a global report published this week says.
The report is published annually by the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Program (WFP) and the European Union (EU).
According to the report, in 2021, 193 million people in 53 countries were acutely food insecure, meaning they needed urgent assistance to survive.
In Mozambique, according to the study, 2.65 million were in a crisis and 260.000 in an emergency.
This represents 16% of the population analyzed by the three organs, where 33 areas were studied in 11 provinces and 12 cities, covering 60% of Mozambique’s total population of 30.1 million.
According to the findings, 15 areas in eastern Cabo Delgado, southern Tete, and most of the districts of Gaza and Inhambane, as well as Dondo district in Sofala and Magude district in Maputo, were in a crisis.
Nearly, 75.000 children under the age of five were short in 2021, of which 27.000 were severely so, and half of all children in Cabo Delgado province were underweight, the researchers noted.
The authors of the document stressed that the number of people in crisis or emergency situations in Mozambique in 2021 was higher than in 2020 by 240.000 people and was the highest number recorded since the country was heavily affected by the 2016 drought linked to the El-Niño weather phenomenon.
The food crisis was exacerbated by conflict and subsequent population movement in northern Mozambique, which disrupted agricultural production and food supplies and drove up prices. At the same time, dry spells, droughts, heavy rains and floods affected agricultural production across the country.
The report said that constraints related to the Covid-19 pandemic also continued to affect economic activities.
Stressing that people forced to abandon their homes are among the most vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition, the authors of the report count the number of internally displaced persons at 950,000 – due to conflict and insecurity in the north of the country and due to the damage caused by cyclones in recent years in the center – and 25,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Mozambique.
In their projections for 2022, the report’s authors anticipate that the food insecurity situation will improve in most of the country, except in the Cabo Delgado region, where an estimated 50% of Mozambique’s population is in a food crisis or worse.
The report estimated that 1.86 million people in the country would be in a food crisis or worse by March 2022, notably in Cabo Delgado, Manica, Tete and Gaza provinces.