Threats to Food Security

  • Poverty
  • Cyclones
  • Drought
  • Floods

Read our latest story on Mozambique:

"Mozambique Aims To Halve Malnutrition By 2020"



Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 172nd out of 182 countries on the 2008/2009 UN Human Development Index. The country is prone to a wide range of natural hazards, which regularly cause major damage and disrupt economic growth.

The devastating floods of 2000, 2001, 2007 and 2008 and recurrent droughts in 2002/2003, 2004/2005, 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 are recent examples of this trend. Mozambique is regarded as one of the countries most at risk from climate change, which could increase both the frequency and severity of natural disasters.

The national adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is over 15 percent, with four provinces having rates above 20 percent – Gaza in the south has the highest prevalence at 27 percent. Mozambique has a population of 21.7 million people, including 1.6 million orphans. Due to the scale and severity of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the number of orphans is increasing.

Mozambique remains rooted in deep, rural poverty despite almost seven percent economic growth rate over the past four years and improvements in education, health and nutrition indicators since the end of the civil war in 1992.

According to the Government of Mozambique, 54 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line; 63 percent of rural children live in absolute poverty; and 34 percent of households are food insecure and face perpetual hunger.

Population density is 20 people per square kilometre, with 66 percent of the population residing in rural areas and subsisting predominantly on agriculture. Mozambique ’s urban population is growing and is expected to exceed 50 percent by 2025. School enrolment rates are as high as 95 percent for the first level of primary education, but they drop drastically to 13 percent for primary grades 6-7. Equally telling are primary school completion rates: 76 percent for grades 1-5 and only 35 percent for grades 6-7.

The vast majority of rural and peri-urban families find it difficult to lose their children’s contribution to the family labor pool by sending them to school, so many children enroll at the beginning of the year, but are forced to drop out and miss classes in order to help with family chores.

The annual vulnerability assessment conducted by the Vulnerability Analysis Group (GAV) from the Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN) in August 2009 indicated that the majority of households throughout the country will have food security guaranteed for the next six months with favourable food availability and access, following a good 2009 harvest. The Ministry of Agriculture estimated cereal production at around 2.6 million tons - 14 percent more than the previous year and 26 percent higher than the 5-year average. The production of pulses was also substantially higher than the average.

Nonetheless, it is estimated that around 281,000 people will be food insecure until the main harvest in April 2010 with most of them concentrated in the provinces of Tete, Inhambane, Sofala and Gaza. GAV and partners recommended humanitarian assistance for this entire caseload either through food assistance or cash transfers in Nampula and Zambezia provinces where food is widely available in the markets.

WFP Activities

WFP is working to connect farmers in Mozambique to markets through the Purchase for Progress initiative. Learn more

The overall objective of WFP in Mozambique is to e nable people to improve their livelihoods and resist future shocks. Emphasis is placed on the crucial role of partnerships and increased government-led co-ordination and ownership. WFP supports the Government of Mozambique by providing food assistance to around 698,000 people through a range of activities:

  • Disaster relief and recovery: At the height of the 2008 flood emergency in central Mozambique, WFP assisted some 200,000 people in support of the government’s National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC). In 2008, WFP also assisted 60,000 victims of Cyclone Jokwe, which devastated coastal areas in Nampula Province in March. WFP is one of INGC’s principal emergency partners and remains ready to assist the government in disaster response.
  • Livelihood protection and promotion: WFP contributes to building sustainable assets at the community and district level to facilitate disaster risk reduction and provide a foundation for economic and social development in the most vulnerable districts. Under the leadership of the INGC and district authorities, WFP supports community rehabilitation and infrastructure initiatives through food-for-work and food-for-assets activities in the provinces of Tete, Manica, Sofala, Inhambane and Gaza. These activities include reafforestation, conservation agriculture, digging irrigation ditches, building classrooms etc. Currently, WFP assists around 20,000 people on a monthly basis.
  • School Meals: WFP provides food assistance through the national school system to over 280,000 children through the provision of daily school lunches and take-home rations for girls and orphans. The food provides an extra incentive for children from vulnerable families to come to and stay in school. It also helps them to concentrate on their lessons. WFP has agreed with the Ministry of Education and Culture for a transfer of responsibility to the government for the secondary boarding school meals programme over the next two years and a consolidation of the day school meals programme in the most food insecure districts. WFP is supporting the government with the design of a nationally-owned school meals programme.
  • Social assistance for HIV/AIDS-affected people: WFP provides community-based support to 64,000 orphans and other vulnerable children and 62,000 AIDS-affected people in home based care programmes. Assistance is provided through the Ministry of Women and Social Action and cooperating partners at the community level. Provincial OVC Committees oversee the identification of beneficiaries.
  • Nutritional support for HIV/AIDS patients: Through the Ministry of Health (MISAU) and several clinical health NGOs, WFP provides food assistance to 84,500 mothers enrolled in PMTCT programmes and chronically ill people following antiretroviral treatment (ART) for HIV/AIDS and other illnesses. Food support provides a nutritional supplement to patients for greater nutritional and health wellbeing and drug tolerance, and also represents an incentive for regular attendance and participation in treatment services. WFP support is provide primarily in urban areas in the south and along the Beira to Zimbabwe and Tete to Malawi transport corridors. MISAU requested WFP to pilot and implement a new framework for the government's basic food basket via vouchers programme, commonly known as 'Cesta Basica', which aims to assist people on ART and tubercuosis patients.
  • Nutrition rehabilitation for malnourished children: WFP, UNICEF and MISAU manage a tripartite nutrition rehabilitation programme for roughly 7,500 moderately malnourished children under five. Nutritionally fortified food commodities are provided to needy children through district health centers.
  • Local Procurement: Based on a commitment to efficient and cost-effective delivery of food assistance and to the development of the local agricultural economy in Mozambique , WFP endeavors to purchase as much food within Mozambique as possible. Local purchase supports the government’s national poverty reduction strategy by providing markets for basic food commodities grown by semi-subsistence rural farm families. In 2007, WFP purchased 46,000 tons of local food commodities for US$13 million, a record amount for local procurement in Mozambique. In 2008, WFP bought 33,000 at a cost of over US$14 million.
  • Purchase for Progress (P4P): As part of WFP’s global Purchase for Progress (P4P) Initiative, WFP is implementing a five-year project aimed at assisting Mozambican farmers to produce and sell greater food surpluses and thereby increase their incomes. WFP aims to procure at least 22,000 tons of cereals and pulses directly from farmers’ organizations and small traders between 2008 and 2013. P4P in Mozambique will be implemented within the framework of the “Delivering as One” UN reform initiative, and will form a major component of the joint programme between WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Ministries of Agriculture and Industry and Trade entitled “Building Commodity Value Chains and Market Linkages for Farmers’ Associations”. The programme aims to increase the quantity of cereals and pulses that WFP buys directly from smallholder organisations and small-scale/low-income producers to increase the production and trading capacity of the participating producers. WFP is looking into increasing capacity building activities and local procurement of processed foods such as fortified foods, biscuits and corn soya blend.
  • Social Assistance, Labour-based programme (PAST): PAST is an innovative social protection programme to assist and engage households in urban settings that are vulnerable but able to work. It is a pilot effort to test a practical, strategic, programmatic response to the high food price crisis in Mozambique in direct response to a request from President Guebuza. This programme will cushion the impact of rising food prices through cash transfers for members of vulnerable households, improved livelihoods and a work and training programme that upgrades basic infrastructure in Maputo's poor communities.
  • ‘Delivering as One’ UN reform initiative As Mozambique is a pilot country for the “Delivering as One” UN reform initiative, WFP participates in the development and implementation of six of the eleven joint programmes and supports the UN system in the areas of information and communication technology (ICT), operations management and communications.


WFP Offices

Head Office