Located in southeastern Africa, Mozambique is a low-income, food-deficit country with a largely rural population of 28 million. It ranked 181 of 189 countries in the 2020 Human Development Index, 103 of 107 in the 2020 Global Hunger Index, and 127 of 162 in the 2019 Gender Inequality Index.
Independence in 1975 was followed by a 16-year-long civil war which ended in 1992. Since then, two decades of peace and stability allowed Mozambique to make progress in social and economic terms. The Peace and Reconciliation agreement was signed in July 2019 and the government and international forces jointly initiated the process of demilitarization, demobilization and reintegration.
Escalating violence in the northern Cabo Delgado province is causing mass displacement. As of March 2021, 697,000 people had been driven away from their homes. Some 80,000 people are in areas made inaccessible by insecurity. The ongoing conflict is a driver of hunger. More than 950,000 people in the provinces of Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Nampula are facing severe hunger (IPC January 2021). Cabo Delgado province has the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in Mozambique – with more than half the children malnourished – and now thousands are falling deeper into food insecurity.
In 2015, the country reached its Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of hungry people. Chronic food insecurity is now estimated at 24 percent and malnutrition at 25 percent. However, despite these impressive achievements, significant challenges to food and nutrition security remain.
Most people cannot afford the minimum costs for an adequately diversified diet. Coupled with other factors – such as high rates of infectious and water-borne diseases and limited access to health services, water and sanitation – this lies at the roots of persistently high levels of malnutrition, which affects 43 percent of children under 5, with peaks of 46 percent in rural areas.
Conflict, drought and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic activities are among the main drivers of food insecurity. The number of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) across the country increased to 2.9 million people between January and March 2021, up from 2.7 million in the previous quarter.
The current level of food insecurity was caused by multiple shocks. In 2019-2020, Mozambique suffered from a lack of rainfall, extreme rains, cyclones, floods, pests and insecurity in the northern areas, which resulted in major agricultural losses, destruction of infrastructure, assets and livelihoods, internal displacement and other damages.
Mozambique is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. It is highly vulnerable to extreme climatic conditions which destroy infrastructure and restrict economic growth, hindering efforts to achieve environmental sustainability and to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Although the southern and central regions are prone to drought, floods frequently occur along major river basins and in poorly-drained urban settlements. Two out of three people live in coastal areas and are vulnerable to rapid-onset disasters such as cyclones, storms and flash floods.
In response to these challenges, the Government of Mozambique has recognized food and nutrition security as key priorities within its Five-Year Plan, which emphasizes the importance of improved access to food, living conditions and the development of human capital. The World Food Programme (WFP) has been present in Mozambique since 1977 and works to support and add value to the Government’s Zero Hunger agenda, with a focus on improving the food security and strengthening the resilience of individuals and communities, in the face of multiple shocks and stressors.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Mozambique
WFP is assisting displaced people in the Northern Provinces of Cabo Delgado, and Nampula with distributions of food and, where possible, cash transfers or vouchers. 545,000 displaced people received assistance in March 2021. WFP aims to scale up operations to reach 750,000 internally displaced people and vulnerable members of host communities in Northern provinces until December 2021, funding permitting. WFP interventions also include treating malnutrition and collaborating with UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and government partners to establish COVID-19 treatment centers.
WFP supports the government in addressing malnutrition in all its forms. This includes the co-chairing of the Nutrition Partners Forum, the Scale-Up Nutrition (SUN) UN/Donor Network and the SUN Business Network, and support in the design of an integrated Food Security and Nutrition Information System. During emergencies, WFP also supports the Ministry of Health, jointly with UNICEF, in a wasting rehabilitation programme in 38 highly vulnerable districts. WFP’s stunting reduction activities combine Food Assistance for Assets, post-harvest loss and social behavior change and communication for maternal and child health services.
WFP supports the Ministry of Education and Human Development through technical assistance in the design, mobilization of financial resources and implementation of a sustainable school feeding programme as an investment for the development of human capital. Local procurement of food for the programme contributes to economic development. In 2020, WFP is supporting more than 200,000 children in over 300 schools.
WFP is supporting food-insecure families – including refugees, internally displaced people and those affected by the cyclones – with food or cash transfers during seasonal gaps in return for participation in the creation of community and household assets aimed at supporting community food security, livelihoods and resilience to future shocks and climate change. Vulnerable people unable to engage in productive work receive unconditional food/cash transfers.
Support to smallholder farmers
With a focus on women-led organizations, WFP aims to strengthen smallholder farmers’ capacity to act collectively, improve the quality of harvested products, storage, marketing for increased incomes and improved terms of purchase agreements with private-sector buyers. This includes the promotion of labor-saving technologies and gender awareness training for women and men, as well as training on business management and aggregation, food storage and handling, and quality control to reduce post-harvest losses.
The Technical Secretariat for Food and Nutrition Security (SETSAN) and the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) are key institutional counterparts for WFP Mozambique’s capacity strengthening efforts for preparedness, response and recovery activities from weather-related shocks. Through its Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) capacity, WFP supports the Government and partners on food security and nutrition and market assessments, using traditional and innovative methodologies such as UAV technology and geospatial information systems for mapping and assessments.
Resilience and climate-change adaptation
WFP puts a strong emphasis on climate change adaptation programmes (climate services, village savings and loans, and insurances) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in view of contributing to strengthening the resilience of communities to future shocks. WFP aims to expand long-term asset base, build robust partnerships with government technical services as well as the private sector, expand purchases from farmer organizations and support their linkages to institutional demand.