WFP has said that it would like to buy locally as much food as possible for 120,000 people already affected by flooding in central Mozambique but stressed that cash donations were crucial.
We generally prefer to buy food locally if it’s available, cost competitive and purchases do not drive up prices,” said Amir Abdulla
Amir Abdulla, WFP Regional Director for Southern Africa
Over the last six years, WFP has spent more than US$20 million in Mozambique buying close to 100,000 metric tons of food – including maize, maize meal and corn-soya blend – for people affected by HIV/AIDS and food insecurity caused by crop failure and natural disasters. WFP spent a record US$7.4 million on local purchases in Mozambique in 2006.
Boosting the economy
“We generally prefer to buy food locally if it’s available, cost competitive and purchases do not drive up prices,” said Amir Abdulla, WFP Regional Director for Southern Africa.
“Such purchases underpin local markets, boost the economy and help to secure jobs, which can stimulate economic growth.”
WFP has so far distributed food to some 33,500 people hit by flooding in areas downstream from Mutarara in the Zambezi River Basin and around Quelimane.
The UN system in Mozambique is expected to launch an international appeal in the coming days to fund a large humanitarian relief operation – a significant portion of which will involve food aid that WFP would prefer to procure locally.
WFP is working with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Ministries of Industry and Commerce, and Agriculture to maximise local purchases for the flood response.
While flood waters in central Mozambique have started receding in the last few days, more rainfall is expected across southern Africa, which could cause greater distress to communities already affected by the flooding as well as those that have so far narrowly escaped.
Mozambique’s national disaster relief agency, INGC, has estimated that up to 285,000 people will be affected by flooding before this rainy season finishes around the end of March.
Tropical storm whipping up
Water levels in much of central Mozambique are already higher than at any time since March 2001, and with the rains expected to continue for another month, officials remain extremely concerned about the welfare of people in low-lying areas.
Meanwhile, tropical storm Favio is building up, off the coast of southern Madagascar.
On its current trajectory, it is expected to make landfall in Mozambique’s southern Inhambane Province by late Wednesday. WFP is closely monitoring the situation.
Funding critically short
The weather has been substantially drier in southern Mozambique leading to drought conditions but funding for WFP’s programmes in this area for people affected by HIV/AIDS, including orphans and vulnerable children, remains critically short.
WFP currently needs US$12 million to buy food for up to 900,000 people through the end of 2007.
“Mozambique battles floods, drought and cyclones at the same time of the year, nearly every year, which is the why the international community cannot afford to neglect any one area of assistance,” Abdulla said.
“Food aid is an extremely quick response to these types of crises and has proven to be very effective time and time again,” he said.