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 Cyclone Idai in Mozambique

Cyclone Idai in Mozambique

On 14 March 2019, Cyclone Idai made landfall on the port city of Beira in Mozambique, a key trading post and home to over 500 000 people, before decimating the provinces of Inhambane, Manica, Sofala, Tete and Zambezia. The impact was especially devastating as it was preceded and followed by torrential rains and flooding, causing rivers to overflow, a dam in the Buzi district to burst, sweeping away entire communities and leaving an unknown number of people stranded.

Over 80 percent of the population of Mozambique depend on agriculture for their livelihoods: food and grain stores, fisheries infrastructure and livestock assets were washed away and more than 500 000 hectares of crops have been completely destroyed. This raises serious concerns for food security in the immediate and longer term for hundreds of thousands of households, particularly as the cyclone occurred during the main annual harvest for the central region.

Prior to the cyclone and the floods, an estimated 1.78 million people were already food insecure in Mozambique, according to the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis and the Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN). These numbers will rise as the water recedes and the extent of the damage to productive, agricultural and fisheries infrastructure and assets becomes clear, many of which have been completely wiped out.

An immediate lack of food and the absence of livelihoods are among the primary concerns preventing displaced rural people from returning to their homes. With the April planting season already due to be underway and an increasingly narrow window of opportunity available for planting for the September harvest, safeguarding the main agricultural season to ensure that rural families are able to fully participate in it is critical to restoring food security in Mozambique, where Idai’s impacts have been ruinous for both lives and livelihoods.

FAO’s emergency livelihood response and resilience strategy for Mozambique

The true extent of the damage to agriculture remains to be seen, but FAO and its sister agency the World Food Programme (WFP) are carrying out rapid needs assessments and mapping productive, agricultural and fisheries infrastructure and assets to shape the UN’s Food Security Cluster response plans for the next three, six and twelve months.

This response will cover not only seed and tool distributions, but also repairing rural infrastructure such as roads and irrigation equipment, launching livestock vaccination campaigns, increasing fodder production and restoring or replacing fishing boats and equipment. FAO will also be supporting new IPC analysis and consequent decision-making to restore food production and mitigate what could otherwise be a catastrophic fallout on food security and nutrition in Mozambique.

Distribution of tools and early-maturing seeds

In time for the April planting season, FAO is distributing 14 700 agricultural kits to reach around 73 000 people in the most-affected provinces of Sofala and Manica. The seeds are early-maturing crops that will be ready for harvest 90 days after planting, protecting the immediate food security of most-affected households. Each kit contains: 8 kg maize seeds; 4kg bean seeds; 2 hoes, and 1 machete.

FAO’s 2019 emergency appeal

FAO is seeking USD 38 million to rebuild critical agricultural and fisheries infrastructure, resume local food production and support livestock owners. So far, USD 15 million has been raised: a gap of USD 23 million – 61 percent – remains.

To support the resilience of affected people, FAO is already working to deliver targeted expertise, seeds and livestock to ease immediate food and nutrition needs, ensure the winter harvest is not missed, and resilience to future shocks.

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