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Aid urgently needed, says WFP

Country Map - Mozambique (Southern Provinces)
The country's southern provinces have again suffered drought-induced food shortages (IRIN)

Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in Mozambique will go hungry unless the international community provides urgent funding for aid programmes, the World Food Programme (WFP) has warned.

"We urgently need US $19 million to keep essential feeding programmes going for 430,000 people in Mozambique, but we need the assistance now," WFP's Regional Director for Southern Africa, Mike Sackett, said in a statement.

"Southern Mozambique is particularly hard hit by the food shortages and, of course, HIV/AIDS is also exacting a terrible toll on the most vulnerable households."

Across the region, WFP still needs about $191 million to feed up to 8.5 million people in Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia through the next lean season from December this year to April 2006.

WFP said nearly every country in the region was experiencing significant price hikes in staple foods, increasing the vulnerability of poor people.

In the coastal city of Xai-Xai, capital of Mozambique's Gaza Province, maize prices in July were 30 percent higher than a year earlier. In Chokwe, about 100 km northeast of Xai-Xai, prices in July were 38 percent higher than last year, and similar trends are being observed across the region.

"It is alarming that we're seeing so many negative signs across southern Africa so early in the season," Sackett said. "All countries are affected, but in Mozambique the situation is being compounded by a bleak outlook for the next agricultural season, as water levels have significantly dropped."

In May the Mozambican government appealed for international assistance for nearly 550,000 people when it became evident that up to 43 percent of the country's maize production in the southern areas had been lost.

WFP is currently reaching just over one third of the 430,000 people in immediate need of assistance in the provinces of Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Manica, Sofala and Tete, in the southern half of the country.

These provinces have been hardest hit by the country's fourth successive year of drought; from November onwards, the number of people in need is expected to rise sharply.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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