Changing the internally displaced persons paradigm in Mozambique
Providing IDPs from the country’s destabilized Cabo Delgado Region with a means to start over
Insecurity has left many families with no choice but to leave their homes for the unknown. With the right support, IDPs like Ali Ndalila can rebuild their agriculture-based livelihoods, integrate into host communities and regain their self-sufficiency.
©FAO/Fábio de Sousa
Mozambique’s northernmost province, Cabo Delgado, is blessed with idyllic landscapes, abundant natural resources and a high potential for agriculture. Since 2017, however, non-state armed groups (NSGs) have broken the peace in the region. Their attacks, classified as a terrorist threat, have severely affected the lives of its over 2.3 million inhabitants, more than 80 percent of whom are small-scale farmers reliant exclusively on agriculture for their livelihoods. Almost 1 million people have been driven out of their homeland.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)-developed northern Mozambique Agriculture Livelihoods Response Plan (2021–23) consists of various interventions in response to the crisis, intended to alleviate the suffering of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and help them restore their agriculture-based livelihoods.
A life disrupted
Families fled insecure areas within the province in search of safety, some as far as neighbouring provinces. One such household is Ali Ndalila’s family. “My family and I are originally from Namande village, Muidumbe district. There, I had a 2‑hectare farm, on which I produced corn and peas to support us.”
Due to the attacks, Ali and his family had no choice but to flee their home, leaving everything behind. This included a healthy crop bound to make a bountiful harvest following a particularly wet season. “We arrived here at the Marrarange resettlement centre in Montepuez, thankful for our lives but despairing for our future and what would become of us,” Ali lamented.
Ali was taken in by his cousin, on whom he depended entirely for support to feed his family. It was particularly devastating for him to witness the sheer strain on his cousin to feed the two households.
Providing sustainable support for displaced families
Thanks to the District Services of Planning and Infrastructure (SDPI) and the District Services of Economic Activities (SDAE), Ali, like many other IDPs, was granted access to a 0.5‑hectare piece of land to farm.
As part of the Response Plan, FAO provided IDPs with agricultural livelihood kits to allow them to practice their traditional craft. For the 2022 winter season, which was the next planting cycle after Ali and his family arrived in Montepuez district, FAO distributed kits composed of vegetable seeds and farming tools necessary to produce enough to feed a household of five for up to six months.
The provision of agricultural inputs (seeds and tools) and good practices material in support of IDPs and host communities aims to increase access to healthy diets, promote the consumption of nutritious food, and provide opportunities for income generation and diversification.
Having the resources and technical support he needed to thrive meant Ali’s farm could flourish despite the challenges. ©FAO/Fábio de Sousa
A new lease on life
FAO technicians routinely go back to check on the progress made by project participants as part of its crop development monitoring. Upon their return to Montepuez, Ali, with a good memory of both names and faces, was delighted to see the same FAO officials from the earlier kit distribution return to assess his progress. His onions, cabbage, okra, pumpkin and beans were all doing well.
“I have already started selling produce from my new farm,” a delighted Ali exclaimed, “the onions and cabbage are fetching great prices because the quality is a notch above the available options at the market”. As assessed by the FAO officials, the crops were impressive in size and appearance.
“I have a new lease on life. The land, seeds, tools and technical support have all played a big role in where I am today,” an emotional Ali remarked. He can now comfortably feed his family and sell the surplus produce to purchase vital products like medication.
Through agriculture, displaced families like Ali’s can sustainability feed themselves and meet other household needs. ©FAO/Fábio de Sousa
More action needed
Indeed, FAO's and its partners' efforts have made a difference in the lives of many like Ali, but more action is needed. With nearly a million people already displaced and the potential for many more, FAO and its local partners urgently require USD 38.7 million to provide the same sustainable and life-saving support to over 967 550 IDPs in 2023.
Ali proves that IDPs can provide for themselves with the proper support, generating livelihoods and more easily integrating into host communities.