The Mozambican National Meteorological Institute (INAM) has warned that the “ElNino” weather phenomenon is recurring this year and could lead to poor rainfall in the south and centre of the country.
El Nino is characterised by an abnormal warming of the surface water of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. This has impacts on weather around the globe, and in southern
Africa it is associated with drought. 2018 was a normal year, and in the January-March period (the height of the rainy season) there was regular rainfall. But INAM fears this may not be the case in 2019 because of El Nino.
The prognosis of INAM is for very low levels of rainfall in the southern provinces and parts of the central region. However, heavy rainfall is expected in northern Mozambique due to the influence of systems of low pressure and the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone. This is more pessimistic than the forecast made by INAM in September, which was for normal to below normal rains in the south and centre, and normal to above normal rains in the north. According to the latest situation report from the national relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute
(INGC), citing INAM, the first three months of the rainy season (October to December) were highly uneven.
Rainfall levels were low in October, but picked up in November, with rains over most of the country, but particularly in the central region. In December there have been regular rains in the north, but poor rainfall in the south and centre.
The poor rains could worsen the situation of food insecurity in the south, particularly in Gaza province. The latest data from the INGC warn of over 814,000 people affected by food insecurity. The Mozambican government on December 27 decreed an “orange alert” because of the risk of flooding in some of the main river basins. An orange alert is one step down from a red alert, the maximum state of disaster readiness.
Under an orange alert there is partial activation of the Local Disaster Risk Management committee and of the Emergency Operational Centres, and items required for response to extreme weather events are pre-positioned at strategic locations. Operational response plans are drawn up and assistance provided to victims.
The orange alert was declared in Maputo at a special meeting of the government’s Disaster Management Coordinating Council (CCGC), chaired by Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario. The meeting analysed the current situation along the main river basins, and the long-range weather forecast, and was briefed on the activities undertaken so far by the INGC.
Rosario declared that the government needs to anticipate phenomena and prevent deaths from natural disasters such as drought and floods. “We decided we had to hear what the real situation is, and take preventive measures”, he said. The INGC general director, Augusta Maita, told reporters that declaring an orange alert was declared particularly to allow assistance to the southern region, “but we ended up proposing the alert across the entire region, because there are extreme events elsewhere”.
One such event was an earthquake on December 22, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale which shook Mossurize district, in the central province of Manica. It destroyed 108 houses and damaged a further 319 people. Ten people are known to have been injured in the earthquake, which was also felt in Sofala, Inhambane and Gaza provinces. School and health posts were also damaged. Maita said the INGC is on the ground in Manica, distributing tents and food to families who have lost their homes.