Mozambique: Zambézia region

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Zambézia province is situated in central Mozambique, bordering Tete and Sofala provinces in the West, Niassa province in the North, Nampula province in the North-East and the Indian ocean in the South. The total area of Zambézia province is 105,000 km², which is roughly the combined size of Scotland and Wales.

The climate regime in Zambézia is unimodal, the temperate is, according to Köppen-Geiger classification, tropical and dominated by the tropical savanna regime. The wet season is between November and March with an average precipitation of 70 mm/month; dry season is between April and October with 12 mm/month on average. However, there is an overall decreasing trend in seasonal rainfall, primarily from reduced rainfall in October and November. Tendency for fewer seasonal rain days comes mainly from February-April and is stronger in coastal and northern areas of Zambézia. Vegetation cover as a result has a decreasing long term tendency more pronounced in the early stages of the season. Zambézia is the warmest province in the country, the temperatures meander between a minimum of 20 degrees Celsius to a maximum of 30 to 35 degrees Celsius throughout the year.

Source: E. Gevorgyan / ZALF

The soils are fluvisols in the coastal areas, but there are also acrisols and ferralsols in the up- and highlands. In context with this, Zambézia province can be clustered in four main agro-ecological zones:

  1. coastal and sub-coastal zone,
  2. intermediate altitude zone (of (2a) Zambézia and (2b) Niassa),
  3. high altitude zone and
  4. (in the West) the valley zone of Zambezi and Chire rivers.

The main crops produced by harvested area in the region are cassava, maize, sweet potato, pulses (e.g. cowpeas and pigeon peas) and – in the coastal and sub-coastal zone – rice. Nearly all are produced in rain fed systems.

According to the census of 2017, Zambézia is, with 5.1 million inhabitants, one of the most populated provinces in Mozambique. Administratively, the province is subdivided into 16 different districts, with Gúruè district – the area Vegi-Leg operates in – being one of them. Gúruè has a total area of 5600 km² and 6% of the population (roughly 420.000) people live in this district. Vegi-Leg operates specifically in two sub-administrative units, Lioma and Mepuagiua administrative posts, and here again in Ruace village and Nicoropale locality. According to the official population count, Ruace has 5.625 inhabitants corresponding to 1.125 households and Nicoropale 46.272 inhabitants corresponding to 10.616 households. In both settlements, the vast majority of farmers are operating on a small-scale and main production products are maize, sorghum, cassava, sesame, tobacco, various types of beans, soy, peanuts, tea and various horticulture crops.

Map of study sites in Zambézia region