HC Deb 12 February 2004 vol 417 cc1575-6W
John Barrett

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the reports of the famine early warning systems relating to the potential for drought in Mozambique; and if he will make a statement. [153342]

Hilary Benn

DFID is closely following events. Early season rainfall was well below normal in much of central and southern Mozambique, raising concerns of a third consecutive drought year. Recent rains may still spark crop recovery in the centre of the country, but many areas of southern Mozambique are likely to experience crop failure. Steep price rises in maize, the main staple food, are also probable in southern areas due to crop failure in South Africa and other neighbouring countries. A national assessment of vulnerability and hunger will be made in March after the first harvests have started, and a full needs assessment will be published by April. This will provide sufficient time for DFID and others to look carefully at the assessment and respond as required.