Floods and cyclones cause heavy crop losses in parts of southern Africa
FAO appeals for assistance for Mozambique and Madagascar
20 March 2007, Rome – Floods and cyclones have destroyed many thousands of hectares of crops and infrastructure in southern Africa, with the greatest damage in Mozambique, Madagascar and Zambia. However, the heavy precipitation may have beneficial effects in other parts of these countries, compensating partly for crop losses.
FAO has requested close to $3.8 million to provide assistance to flood-affected communities in Mozambique and Madagascar, as part of joint UN humanitarian appeals launched in the past week.
In Mozambique, heavy rainfall throughout the month of January and the first half of February, compounded by persistent, heavy rains in neighbouring countries, has led to flooding throughout the Zambezi river basin with an estimated 285 000 people affected.
In a separate incident farther south in the country, Cyclone Favio struck the province of Inhambane on 22 February, affecting an estimated 150 000 people. Infrastructure and thousands of hectares of crops were destroyed.
FAO’s main proposed response targets approximately 87 000 agricultural households which have been made food insecure due to loss of assets, food stocks and new production. Assistance will involve urgent rehabilitation of productive assets and replanting of crops for the secondary agricultural season (April to July). FAO is also seeking to provide assistance to affected fishing communities and livestock owners. The total assistance requested is US$2.9 million.
Input trade fairs
Families who lost part or all of their agricultural assets will be given vouchers that can be redeemed for seeds, tools and other implements, as well as small livestock, at input trade fairs organized by FAO and the Government of Mozambique in affected districts. The fairs will attract commercial traders and thus also support local trade development.
“The trade fair approach allows beneficiaries to better adapt external aid to their real needs, and to local conditions, by selecting themselves the kind of inputs they need,” said Anne M. Bauer, Director of FAO’s Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division. “Moreover, external aid money stays in the affected area, rather than being disbursed elsewhere for the procurement of standard input kits.”
Direct distributions of fisheries equipment and vaccination of livestock will complement the trade fairs, according to the specific needs of beneficiary households.
A series of severe cyclones and tropical storms over the past four months have damaged agricultural production in several regions of Madagascar. An estimated 200 000 farmers have been affected, with the potential loss of up to 80 percent of crops in some locations.
FAO is appealing for US$850 000 to restore agricultural production for up to 200 000 vulnerable flood-affected farmers in Madagascar during the 2007 farming year through the provision of agricultural inputs and related assistance.
Zambia has experienced exceptionally high rainfall since early January which has provoked flooding in many parts of the country. Crops are reported to have been swept away by the water, while the remaining crops are stunted. In the short to medium term, poor harvests and outbreaks of livestock disease are expected to increase the food insecurity of vulnerable households.
Farmers in Zambia will also require assistance, and FAO will be appealing for funding in the coming days to provide the needed support.
Media Relations, FAO
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