Located in southeast Africa, Mozambique is a low-income, food-deficit country with a large rural population of 20 million. It ranked 185 of 191 countries in the 2021 Human Development Index, 106 of 116 in the 2021 Global Hunger Index, and 136 of 170 in the 2021 Gender Inequality Index.
Independence in 1975 was followed by a 16-year civil war which ended in 1992. Relative peace and stability allowed Mozambique to make progress in social and economic terms, and by 2015 the country had achieved its Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of hungry people.
Significant challenges to food security and nutrition remain, nonetheless. Inadequate storage facilities lead to farmers losing 30 percent of their harvests to pests and mould, contributing to recurring lean seasons. A vast majority of Mozambicans are too poor to afford a nutritious diet, and malnutrition remains a major underlying cause of child mortality in children under 5.
Mozambique is also one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world and one of the most vulnerable places to extreme climate events such as droughts, floods and cyclones. In 2021, it was ranked at the top of the list of countries most affected worldwide by the impacts of extreme weather patterns, by the Global Climate Risk Index.
Climate shocks, coupled with annual lean seasons and economic shocks, regularly threaten food security. The Ukraine conflict has had a direct impact on food availability, as the country imports essential goods and commodities from Ukraine and Russia. Between November 2021 and March 2022, the number of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) was almost 2 million. The Government of Mozambique recognizes food and nutrition security as key priorities within its five-year plan (2020-2024), which emphasizes the importance of access to food, improved living conditions and the development of human capital.
In the northern province of Cabo Delgado, escalating violence by non-state armed groups has caused mass displacement. As of June 2022, nearly one in three of the province’s inhabitants have been forced from their homes and/or livelihoods – almost half of them are children. This ongoing conflict is driving hunger in Cabo Delgado and in its neighbouring provinces, Niassa and Nampula, where 1.5 million people are now in need of urgent life-saving and life-sustaining humanitarian assistance. Cabo Delgado had the highest rates of chronic malnutrition (stunting) in Mozambique before the conflict, with more than half of children under 5 affected. Now, thousands are falling deeper into food insecurity.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been operating in Mozambique since 1977. WFP supports the Government’s zero hunger agenda, with a focus on improving food and nutrition security as well as strengthening the resilience of individuals and communities in the face of multiple shocks.
The WFP Mozambique Country Strategic Plan (2022-2026) is aligned with national and UN priorities. It is anchored in climate adaptation, aiming to assist the country in mitigating and reversing the deteriorating food security and nutrition situation.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Mozambique
WFP assists over 1 million food-insecure people (including refugees, internally displaced and cyclone-affected people) in three northern provinces, and one in the south. We carry out life-saving initiatives such as food assistance, livelihood activities including providing seeds and agricultural kits, nutrition support and provision of school meals.
WFP offers capacity building and operational assistance to Government and local partners to implement strategies to reduce stunting, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies. WFP promotes multisectoral approaches to address malnutrition from a food system and health system perspective. This includes focusing on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, and women’s empowerment and gender equality, by mainstreaming nutrition through integrated programming.
WFP promotes a people-centered approach that strengthens community resilience to future shocks by adapting food systems to climate change. The strategy is based on six pillars: risk reduction through asset creation and better agricultural practices; agriculture support targeted at youth and women, ranging from conservation agriculture to post-harvest losses; prudent risk-taking using livelihood diversification and microcredit; village savings and loan associations under risk reserves; agriculture microinsurance under risk transfer; and forecast-based financing and anticipatory actions through disaster risk financing.
Disaster risk management and social protection
WFP works with the Government to strengthen its disaster risk management capacity, reducing the negative impact of climate shocks before they occur and the subsequent need for a humanitarian response. WFP uses innovative technology such as drones to conduct assessments and enable anticipatory humanitarian action, disaster response and shock-responsive social protection.
WFP strengthens the Government’s school meals programme to reach more children affected by high levels of food insecurity. The National School Feeding Programme is built on three pillars: students’ nutritional and health status; nutrition education; and students’ agricultural production skills. WFP also provides complementary home-grown school meals and school meals in emergency or recovery settings, to increase access to healthy meals.
United Nations Humanitarian Air Service
The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), managed by WFP, provides a safe, effective and efficient air transport service for humanitarian workers. It enables the delivery of life-saving assistance in hard-to-reach locations in northern Mozambique, to support people in areas where there are no other means of transportation due to insecurity and inaccessible roads. UNHAS is especially crucial during the cyclone season.
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