The village on the outskirts of this district capital is named Accords of Nkomati, after last year's agreement between Mozambique and South Africa that was supposed to bring military security and economic assistance to this desperately poor country.
But the name has become a cruel mockery here, for people are begining to starve to death. Five have died since September, according to village leader Joao Nataniel Uate, and several others appeared near death during a recent visit here.
While parents gathered for a government distribution of seeds, their children lay under trees nearby in listless clumps, holding swollen stomachs with thin arms. Some were too weak even to wave away the flies from their eyes and lips.
In the Mozambican capital of Maputo, government officials and foreign aid specialists are warning that this part of the country faces a potential famine similar to the one that took about 100,000 lives last year. But here in the country's remote interior, 60 miles west of the port of Inhambane, the new famine is already a reality.
There is no food here. The last supply of government grain arrived Dec. 16, and the rains are late and sparse for the fifth consecutive year.
All that is growing is cassava, a nutritious white root similar to a potato that will not be ready for harvest for nearly a year. Meanwhile, people have taken to mashing, boiling and eating cassava leaves that have almost no nutritional value.
On that particular day, workers from the state-operated seed distribution company had managed to deliver 12 bags of peanuts to the village. They were being sold for seed for the equivalent of only about 80 cents per pound. Even so, it was more than many villagers could afford.
Those with money clustered patiently around the few available bags. They pulled coins and tattered bills from the bottoms of small cloth pouches. When one or two seeds fell, bony hands swiftly reached down to retrieve them from the sand.
"As bad as it is here, it is worse further in," said Alberto Mahoque, the acting district administrator, who said the village's population has more than doubled from -- 725 to 1,500 -- in recent months as people arrive on foot from areas farther in the interior.
They come seeking food, fleeing from drought and rebels of the Mozambique National Resistance movement, whose campaign of economic sabotage and terror has made it impossible for peasants to plant new crops in many areas.
Food is not the only essential in short supply. At the 160-bed Chicuque Hospital in Maxixe, the second-largest medical facility in Inhambane Province, there are no bandages, X-rays, disinfectant or anesthesia and no medication to treat malaria or gastroenteritis, the two most common diseases seen here. The motor to the hospital's emergency electricity generator broke down in 1982 and has yet to be repaired.
At the local health clinic in Panda, there are no antibiotics or mattresses for the beds and severe shortages of other medicines and of the kerosene needed to run the generator that powers the sole refrigerator, according to Caterina Muanda, the health technician in charge.
On a porch outside the clinic, a mother held her listless 3-year-old daughter who had red and black splotches on her thin arms and hair turned light gray from malnutrition. The mother said she had walked 30 miles to the clinic carrying the child, who weighed only 17 pounds.
Muanda said the clinic has no medication, sugar, salt or oil to supplement the child's diet, only milk powder that has aggaravated her severe diarrhea.