THE tropical storm Dineo, which hit Mozambique last week, killing seven people and destroying the homes of thousands more, is likely to exacerbate the country’s food crisis, aid agencies have warned.
The storm left a trail of damage in its wake, and the torrential rain flattened crops. The rainwater is expected to make its way to the Limpopo river, where water levels are already high: floods there would destroy farmland and crops in the area.
The humanitarian and emergency affairs director for World Vision (WV), Joseph Kamara, said: “People were just recovering from the El-Niño-induced drought, which was terrible, when the storm hit. We have one big harvest season at the end of March, and, if that harvest fails, then this has a serious impact on food production.
“We should know soon if the water which fell is going to flood the Limpopo basin, where farmers grow maize. There is fear that it will flood and destroy the crop.”
News of the damage caused by the storm was still coming in from remote regions, he said. Schools, hospitals, and businesses had also been damaged by Dineo, which was downgraded to a tropical depression the day after it made landfall on Mozambique.
Mozambique is already one of the world’s poorest countries, and has suffered devastating cycles of flood and drought.
Farmers are also suffering from an invasion of a crop-eating pest known as the fall armyworm, so called because it marches from maize crop to maize crop. It is native to South America, but was identified in Africa last year, and is spreading rapidly. Scientists have warned that it poses a significant threat to food security.
Mr Kamara said that WV’s partners were working with farmers to help them identify the pest, and transport pesticides.