Tuesday, June 10, 2008

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Mutarara-Sena Conflict Agriculture

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Cropland Use Intensity (CUI) in Mozambique was negatively affected by the post-independence war in that country after 1975. Mozambique was a colony of Portugal until 1975, when an 11-year war of independence ended with the establishment of an independent government. But a 17-year civil war started soon after independence.

The civil war affected Mozambicans severely, especially in rural areas. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed. Over a million people fled the country, especially to Malawi, and more than a million others were displaced within Mozambique. Many rural people migrated to the cities, especially along the coast where the government maintained control. The country went into severe economic depression. Agriculture was disrupted, so the country could not feed itself. By the late 1980s Mozambique had one of the lowest per-capita caloric intakes in the world.

Landsat satellite imagery of 15th August 1973 around the town of Mutarara, just before Mozambique got independence, shows high agricultural activity to the top center of the image, indicated by the bright green rectangular patterns north of the small town of Tembe-Tembe. This equates to high cropland use intensity before the war started in 1975. A look at the 24th February 1992 satellite image shows a drastic decrease in agricultural activity, and hence cropland use intensity, in the same area after the war. The prevalence of a brown color in the better part of the image is an indication of the lack of vegetation; arguably due to a lack of agricultural activity. Three years later as can be seen in the 20th April 1995 Landsat image, there is an increase in the green vegetation and the acreage of agricultural fields north of the same study area north of Tembe-Tembe. The final Aster satellite image of the study area shows the largest coverage of healthy green vegetation and agricultural fields, several years after the end of the civil war in Mozambique. This study carried out by Crawford, et al. (1996) is an indication that cropland use intensity decreases due to the effects of war, and increases when political stability and peace prevail in a state.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) runs the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS), which monitors drought-prone countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, to quickly detect droughts and crop failures which could lead to mass hunger and starvation. The US Geological Survey EROS Data Center (EDC) carried out the CUI study presented herein in support of FEWS’ efforts (Crawford et al., 1996).
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