Harsh criticism of drought food aid that provoked threats & violence 

Selective distribution of food aid in the 2016 drought in southern Mozambique is sharply criticised in a study for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The study found food stolen from beneficiaries. Quarrels arose when hungry children from non-beneficiary households tried to eat with beneficiary neighbours. In Sabie a team distributing food was threatened with beating and had to flee. 

And there will be political impact. The study notes that "
during group discussions the sense of injustice was visible with expressions like: 'when it is time to vote we all do but with food some eat and others don’t'." In an area near a Renamo base a community leader was told his name would be given to Renamo guerrillas as a target because he excluded families; he said "they do not understand that the programme only accepts a total of 40 families".

And there was huge variation, with some agencies distributing up to ten times as much food and other products as other agencies. 

The study was done in five districts of Inhambane, Gaza and Maputo provinces which are normally dry and badly hit.  Foreign NGOs, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the government's own National Disasters Institute (INGC,
 Instituto Nacional de Gestao de Calamidades) tried to target those most in need, and distributed commodities. WFP distributed vouchers which could be used at a special market. 

"All communities agree that the drought is affecting them all," the report notes. Thus "selecting just some localities and specific beneficiaries is creating a revolt amongst those excluded." One community in Magude agreed a secret arrangement to redistribute all the aid received so that everyone had aid. 

The study calls for "universal distribution of aid in cash rather than goods. In the rural areas visited there is no great differentiation on levels of poverty and richness. In a poor country like Mozambique, especially in rural areas, it would be more effective to cover all in need. Cash would be the privileged form of aid, as it allows household members (especially women) to make choices based on their more pressing needs."

The study was concluded in December 2016, during the drought, but a one page summary was only published last month by UNFPA and DfID, and it only covers gender issues, not the criticism of selective commodity aid. - Women and Drought in Southern Mozambique.pdf  The full report appears not to have been published, but it has been made available by Zitamar (36 Mb!) on and is now also on my website in condensed format (full report, poorer pictures, 1.1 Mb) on The aid critique is on pages 35-39.

Drought hit women hardest

The title of the study, "Women and drought in southern Mozambique: more responsibilities, less power and increased vulnerabilities", tells the gender side of the study for UNFPA. The drought and the lack of agricultural activities made sharp changes:

+ Women were pushed into traditionally male economic activities, such a cutting wood and making charcoal. But household power dynamics did not change.
+ In an already dry area, collecting water took 10-12 hours per day instead of 2-5 hours. Girls were taken out of school to help.
+ Drought increased poverty and resource scarcity increased conflicts and violence within the household.
+ Men from these districts have always migrated to work in Maputo and South Africa, but the drought forced women and girls to migrate as well, sometimes to live with urban relatives and become domestic workers or market traders. Grandparents were left to care for smaller children.
+ Young women and girls were forced to become wives or lovers of richer men or to sell sex in bars.

The survey notes that "in all six districts there are reports of unplanned pregnancies of teenage girls." There are also indications of in increase in child marriages and in HIV (an issue because the tradition of migration already makes this a high HIV areas).


Drought in Mozambique

Drought in Mozambique

Image by Kepa

, the presence of a compound of male workers under SASOL for the installation of a pipeline in the area has driven young women who have no other opportunities in place to resort to sex with such workers in exchange of their needs. … Engaging in transactional sex emerges as a coping mechanism to the actual drought."

Maputo needs rain

The reservoir behind that Pequenos Libombos dam, which supplies water to Maputo and Matola, is only 20% full, which means that Maputo needs a good rainy season if it is to avoid further water restrictions. This is reported in the first of the National Hydrological Bulletins (Boletim Hidrologico Nacional) for this rainy season published by the National Directorate of Water Resource Management. 
Flood and reservoir bulletins are posted on

Southern Maputo province is predicted to have above average rainfall for the next two months, but below average for January-March 2018, according to the rainy season forecast by INAM The Pequenos Libombos dam is not predicted to become more than half full, in the flood projections of the National Meteorological Institute (Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia) 


Late rains to hit farmers

Rains will be good in January-March in most of Mozambique and should be good for agricultural production, according to INAM (meteorological institute) forecasts. But rains will be below normal and less than needed by the farmers in much of the country until the end of the year, particularly in some of the most productive regions of Nampula, Niassa and Cabo Delgado - as well as parts of Zambezia and Angonia in Tete. This will force farmers to delay planting in many areas.

For January-March, the forecast is below normal rain in the south (Maputo, and south of Gaza and Inhambane) and the north of Cabo Delgado; above normal in the centre (Tete, Zambezia, Sofala and Manica. plus north of Gaza and Inhambane); and normal in the north (Nampula, Niassa, and southern Cabo Delgado).

Little flooding is predicted for the rest of this year, but for January-March 2018 INAM predicts a moderate to high (50-75 per cent) flood risk on the Incomati, Save, Buzi, Pungue, Savane, Licungo, Megaruma and Messalo rivers, and a moderate risk on the Maputo, Umbeluzi, Limpopo, Gorongosa, Zambeze, Raraga, Ligonha, Monapo, Lurio Montepuez and Rovuma rivers. There is a high risk of flooding in some neighbourhoods of Maputo and Beira.


News reports & clippings
16 September 2017

Editor: Joseph Hanlon (
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