Cablegate: Usaid/Dcha/Ofda Assessment Visit To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


E.O. 12958: N/A


USAID/OFDA Disaster Response and Mitigation Division
Director and USAID/OFDA Principal Regional Advisor
for Southern Africa visited Mozambique from 10 - 12
December to meet with Embassy and USAID staff, UN
agencies, NGO partners, and Government (GRM)
disaster management officials to review the drought
and food security situation affecting selected
provinces in the south and center of the country.
The team traveled to Gaza Province to observe food
aid distributions and other programs in progress.
The GRM developed a Contingency Plan that was put
into place in 2002/03 in response to drought
conditions, and this plan has been updated for the
2003/04 season to respond to drought, floods, and
cyclones, should any, or all, of these occur. The
current drought and food security situation, while
serious, seems to the OFDA team to be under control
through a combination of food aid assistance through
UN World Food Program (WFP), supported in large part
by USAID Food For Peace (USAID/FFP), relevant UN
agencies, a handful of other donors, a group of
international and national NGOs, and GRM funds
reprogrammed from the regular budget. Given a poor
start to the 2003/04 crop season, USAID/Mozambique
and USAID/OFDA will continue to monitor the
situation to determine if additional humanitarian
assistance, particularly non-food aid, is required.
Extended Drought in the South and Center
Mozambique is one of the six countries included in
the UN's Regional Consolidated Appeal for Southern
Africa in response to the complex food security
crisis affecting the region. Drought and food
insecurity has affected more than 40 districts in
the provinces of Maputo, Gaza, and Inhambane in the
southern part of the country, and Tete, Manica and
Sofala provinces in the central region, resulting in
two years of failed crop seasons. In some areas,
these conditions followed several significant
floods, the largest being in 2000 and 2001,
resulting in up to three or four successive years of
poor harvests. USAID/FFP was one of the first food
aid donors to respond, this noted by GRM officials,
and remains a significant contributor to WFP's
emergency food aid program. Food aid distributions
to drought-affected communities, combined with
supplemental feeding to women and children, have
largely stabilized the food intake situation,
preventing the nutritional status from deteriorating
to crisis levels. In anticipation of a near normal
2003/04 crop season, GRM reprogrammed funds from its
agricultural development budget to fund the (a)
distribution/sale of seeds and agricultural inputs
to affected communities through seed fairs; (b)
multiplication of drought tolerant improved
varieties of cassava and sweet potatoes, and (c)
rehabilitation of small scale irrigation sites,
linked to treadle pumps.
Contingency Planning for 2003/04
The team attended a presentation chaired by the
Foreign Minister and the GRM disaster management
office, the Instituto Nacional de Gestao das
Calamidades (INGC), where the results of actions
taken in 2002/03 were presented and the revised
Contingency Plan for 2003/04 was outlined. The
Contingency Plan takes account of the three primary
natural hazards in Mozambique, droughts, floods, and
tropical cyclones, and sets forth actions to be
taken in the event that any, or all, of these occur.
The GRM's first response will be to realign existing
budget resources to provide assistance. Depending
on the size and scope of the disaster, the GRM will
then look to locally-based UN and NGO partners for
assistance, before requesting aid from the
international donor community. In the event of a
large-scale disaster, or multiple disasters, it is
likely that donor resources will be needed to
complement GRM funds. The efforts being undertaken
by the GRM to plan for recurrent natural disasters
are widely appreciated by the UN and donor community
and serve as the basis for further assistance, as
Mitigation Programs underway
The team traveled to Gaza Province, along with staff
from WFP and UNICEF, and were hosted by Samaritan's
Purse (SPIR), a U.S. PVO working with drought-
affected communities. SPIR serves as an
Implementing Partner for WFP and UNICEF managing
food distribution activities. Food distribution is
largely undertaken through community-identified
food-for-work (FFW) programs, and the team visited
three activities underway. Under the technical
management of the District Department of
Agriculture, one community is developing a
multiplication/propagation center where improved
cassava and sweet potatoes are being intensively
grown under irrigation. This center is producing
planting materials that will be distributed to
neighboring communities, serving to provide a more
diverse, and drought-tolerant crop suited to farms
in drought prone areas. Additional
multiplication/propagation centers are being
developed throughout the area. Community labor is
compensated through food aid provided by WFP through
In response to recurrent flooding, one community was
constructing a causeway across a low, swampy area
that periodically floods, cutting off their fields
from access to the main rood and market. Upon
completion, this causeway should serve to keep
access open during most normal periods of seasonal
flooding. The team was impressed with the extent
and quality of the construction and the high degree
of participation of women in the project. Another
FFW project involved the reconstruction of the
central town market, destroyed during the 2000
floods. The market is being reconstructed on an
elevated foundation that will enable it to remain
open during occasional periods of local seasonal
Poor water quality is an ongoing problem in the
region visited, and particularly acute in a period
of greatly diminished uncontaminated sources from
which to draw, with many people obtaining their
water from unprotected wells and rivers. In
response to this immediate problem, SPIR is
producing and promoting an innovative, low-cost and
highly effective bio-sand filtration system designed
for home use. The team visited the fabrication
facility and was briefed on the design and operation
of the system and visited a home where the system
was in use. The system is low-cost and can be
maintained by the household, and eliminates most of
the common contaminants found in surface water. The
team felt that this low-cost, high-impact system
warranted further study to determine potential for
propagation/dissemination and its possible use in
other emergency programs.
As water for both consumption and agriculture has
proven to be a critical immediate problem for rural
families affected by this drought in Mozambique,
several NGO partners (World Vision, CARE, SPIR, and
Save the Children) are developing plans and seeking
funding for a variety of water interventions,
including the repair of broken borehole pumps,
improvement of shallow wells, small-scale irrigation
systems. These interventions, if undertaken, will
provide essential potable water that complements
food distribution, alleviates the current threat of
water-borne intestinal diseases - particularly to
young children, and serves to mitigate the impact of
future droughts and improve food security and health
status in the affected communities.
The OFDA team generally felt that the current
drought situation, while significant, was under
control and being managed well by a combination of
GOM, UN, NGO, and donor resources. The food aid
program is having significant impact in maintaining
the health and nutritional status of drought-
affected communities. USAID/Mozambique, related UN
agencies and involved NGOs in the field argue that
more can and should be done to alleviate suffering,
with particular mention of water needs. The current
2003/04 crop season requires ongoing monitoring, as
rains during the first half of the season (October -
December) have been late and insufficient. Crop
stress was observed during the visit, and should the
rains continue to be erratic, insufficient, and
poorly timed, it is likely that crop production,
especially maize, will be significantly reduced.
USAID/Mozambique and OFDA Southern Africa Regional
Office will monitor of effectiveness of coping
strategies and current relief activities. A further
assessment of the situation will be necessary if the
2003/04 season is negatively impacted. The sparse
rainfall pattern seen thus far in the growing season
is extremely worrisome for several districts that
have suffered through complete crop losses for the
past three or four years. Further humanitarian
assistance - including the need for non-food aid --
is probable unless the drought breaks in the next
few weeks.

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