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Flooding squeezes food supplies in Cabo Delgado

The rainy season has wreaked havoc on roads in northern Mozambique, triggering food inflation and hampering the delivery of aid

A tuk tuk gets stuck on the flooded banks of the Senga river in Cabo Delgado province. Credit: Fernando Lima

Cabo Delgado province is grappling with severe food shortages as poor weather has severed access to the region’s main roads, preventing the delivery of vital goods, especially in northern districts.

Flooding has destroyed several key bridges since the start of the rainy season in January, most importantly the bridge over the Messalo river by Miangalewa on the N380 highway, which connects the provincial capital Pemba to the northern districts of Mueda, Nangade, Mocímboa da Praia and Palma. The town of Quissanga has also been isolated since at least 19 February following the collapse of the bridge on the R762 over the Montepuez river. 

The main alternative route from Pemba to northern Cabo Delgado, the R698 via Montepuez, is not tarmacked and vehicles are frequently stuck in the mud.

Consequently, in Mueda the price of 20 litres of petrol has doubled from MZN2,000 ($31.3) to MZN4,000 ($62.61), while the cost of a bag of rice has increased from MZN1750 ($27.39) to MZN 2,200 ($34.43). The cost of five litres of cooking oil has increased from MZN520 ($8.14) to MZN1,000 ($15.65), according to local sources.

Heavy rain has also hampered the distribution of food aid to people affected by the Islamic State-backed insurgency in Cabo Delgado. Zitamar understands that the World Food Programme (WFP) has struggled to access vulnerable communities in the last two months due to the collapse of the bridge at Miangalewa and the poor quality of the R698, which at times was completely unusable. Flooding has also affected the WFP’s access to southern districts such as Namuno.

Some recipients of aid in Mocímboa da Praia town have not received food vouchers in two weeks. A group of desperate residents in the town’s Pamunda neighbourhood attacked the local chief on 23 March, accusing him of putting their names last on the list to receive food, a local source told Zitamar News. As a result, the distribution of all food vouchers was suspended until more supplies arrived.

Food is being delivered to Mocímoba da Praia by sea to bypass the roads, but the deliveries are not sufficient as the boats are not designed to transport food, according to the source. One overladen boat carrying food from Pemba to Ibo island sank on 15 March.

This article was produced by Zitamar News under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with Mediafax and ACLED. The contents of the article are the sole responsibility of Zitamar News.