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"Agriculture, health and employment - Key factors for ending poverty and hunger"- Queen Mathilde of the Belgians in Mozambique

The Queen of the Belgians is one of the 17 SDG advocates in the world

07th February, Mozambique – Queen Mathilde of the Belgians held a five-day visit to Mozambique as UN Advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals. In this context, she visited field projects funded by the Belgian Fund for Food Security, implemented by United Nations Agencies, including FAO.

In her speech at the Eduardo Mondlane University, the Queen of Belgium referred to the challenges posed by climate change and the crucial need to prevent malnutrition and hunger.

"It will be difficult to eradicate hunger and poverty without progress in agriculture, health and job creation," said the Queen, adding that "economic and social progress will be much more difficult to sustain if temperatures rise and natural resources dwindle".

The Queen further stressed that "fighting climate change, especially in industrialized countries, will benefit the entire planet. Failing to do so will have dramatic consequences, even in countries that have contributed very little to global warming, such as Mozambique. The same is true for restoring the health of the oceans and rolling back the loss of biodiversity. That is particularly important for Mozambique, with its 2,500 kilometers of coast. If we are to achieve these goals by 2030, we need to accelerate and intensify our efforts".

The Queen of Belgium considers that, much remains to be done to raise awareness of the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals in the country.

"With limited resources, it is difficult to choose between different needs, or between short-term needs and long-term vision. The most important message of the SDGs is that there is no contradiction or competition between economic growth and social and environmental investments, "said the Queen.

For the youth, the Belgium Queen challenged the future leaders to make SDG their own agenda. The Queen said that she was happy to share her ideas with the University's youth and encouraged them to take every opportunity to work together on this ambitious development agenda for the future.

Since 2013, the Belgian Fund has been financing a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations  (FAO) project that contributes to food and nutritional security in Gaza province (Guijá, Mabalane, Chicualacuala, Chigubo and Mapai districts), implemented by FAO and budgeted at USD 2.95 million.

Through Belgian funding, FAO has managed to establish 75 Farmer Field Schools (FFS), benefiting 994 producers, of which 68% are women.

Overall, the project contributes to develop human capital through capacity building, using FFS for the agriculture and livestock components; in raising awareness among communities on the sustainable use of natural resources and; in disseminating practices that aim to improve diet and nutrition through better combination of foods that are available in primary schools and in the FFS. Important results include an increase on maize productivity among FFS beneficiaries by 25% and decrease of mortality rates in chicken - an important source of protein at community level - from 90% to under 10%.

Knowledge and practices on nutrition improved by 50% amongst beneficiaries (farmers and students from primary schools) and natural resources management improved. Women empowerment is visible among the groups where they start to play a leadership role.