Fact Sheets

Despite having significant economic potential in terms of natural resources and tourism, Cabo Delgado is one of the poorest regions in Mozambique and is a hub for wildlife, human and drug trafficking; it also has the highest illiteracy rate in the country (67%), a history of economic marginalization and high unemployment rates. Since October 2017, the province has seen an increase in violent attacks, creating a climate of fear and distrust in communities. The insecurity has forced families out of their homes and into host communities, overstretching resilience capacities.

While Mozambique’s economy has had consistent growth rates for several years, progress has been much slower in rural areas. Food insecurity in these rural areas remains a significant challenge. At least 25% of the rural population consistently suffers from food insecurity, 43% of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition (stunting), and more than 65% of children under five have deficiencies of essential micronutrients, such as vitamin A – which compromises the immune system and can lead to blindness.

The 29 million Mozambicans are served by approximately 1,640 primary level health facilities. Due to inadequate investment in routine maintenance and upgrades many of these facilities are in a poor condition and lacking essentials such as water, functioning sanitation systems, safe medical waste disposal and electricity.  A lack of access to safe water and adequate sanitation, and poor hygiene practices creates the environment for an alarmingly high prevalence of diarrhea throughout the country. Furthermore, 16 percent of all deaths in Mozambique can be attributed to inadequate WASH practices.

USAID has worked closely for years with partners such as private sector companies and associations, civil society organizations, and the Government of Mozambique to make it easier to do business across sectors, put the country in a stronger competitive position, and increase trade and investment. Recent work has focused on reforming agricultural trade and investment policies with an eye on improving livelihoods of smallholder farmers as well as enabling agribusiness to flourish.

Wildlife crime is threatening both the black and white rhino and elephant populations in the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation area (GLTFCA), a transboundary area bordering Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Poaching and illegal wildlife trade remains an alarming threat to the survival of rhino and elephant species, particularly in the Kruger National Park in South Africa where populations have rapidly declined as the region has become a lucrative rhino poaching hotspot.

In the 1990s, the government of Mozambique created a legal framework for land which recognized traditional community rights while encouraging investment. While the resulting legislation is progressive – land is owned by the state, and communities and good faith occupants have perpetual use rights – it has been unevenly implemented. The majority of rural residents are unaware of their communal and individual land rights, or, if aware, lack the political, financial, and technical means to effectively assert those rights in key situations.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, Gorongosa National Park (GNP) was considered one of the premier protected areas in Southern Africa, renowned for its abundance and diversity of wildlife. However, after Mozambique’s liberation and independence in 1975, civil strife and rampant poaching decimated wildlife and destroyed tourism infrastructure. In 2008, the nonprofit Carr Foundation created the Gorongosa Restoration Project as part of an initial 20-year agreement with the Government of Mozambique (GMR) to return GNP to its pre-conflict exuberance.

Agriculture is the backbone of Mozambique’s economy. More than 80% of Mozambicans are employed in the agricultural sector with 90% of those being women. Therefore, accelerating agricultural growth is a key means of eradicating poverty and increasing food security in rural areas where poverty is widespread. The crops targeted by this activity (common bean, cowpea, groundnuts, pigeon pea and soybean) are the foundation of Mozambique’s food and nutrition security and a source of income for many smallholder farmers. Nevertheless, the competitiveness and profitability of most smallholder legume and sesame farmers are constrained by low productivity due to limited access to improved varieties and outdated agronomic practices.

Rural livelihoods in Mozambique are primarily agriculturally based and climate dependent. Climate shocks will likely increase poverty and malnutrition for rural households, which are not currently resilient enough to withstand the effects of a changing climate. According to the Feed the Future Resilient Agricultural Markets Activity (RAMA) Framework, “Resilient Agricultural Markets Activity encompasses how agriculture affects and is affected by climate change and aligns this integration with food security objectives.

Despite Mozambique’s recent economic growth and its strategic location in southern Africa, the country still faces challenges in developing its agriculture sector and reducing hunger. The most common is the lack of access to quality inputs and markets. The Mozambican agricultural market has an undeveloped agro-inputs distribution system, with very few agriculture supply shops in rural areas. The few inputs that are commercially available are found in distant urban centers, inaccessible to most farmers.

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Last updated: June 01, 2020

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