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Cabo Delgado conflict disrupts families' access to food

Isabel, 26, is among many mothers who are struggling to provide for their families having been forced from their homes by violence in Cabo Delgado.

Isabel grinding rice into a paste at a resettlement centre

Cabo Delgado has been facing extended periods of drought which has decreased the amount of food communities have been able to grow, putting families under stress.

In addition to violence from insurgents which has caused mass displacement, the food shortages mean many families are unable to meet the nutritional needs of their children. 

Isabel is a 26-year-old mother of 3, from Palma district in Cabo Delgado. Having lived in a resettlement centre with her family since December 2020, she recounts instances where she did not have enough to feed her children.

“Since we moved to the resettlement centre, it has been difficult to provide enough food for my children and me. On some days we only manage to eat 1 meal which would never happen in Cabo Delgado because we had enough food for us all,” said Isabel.

Food shortages affect young children

Caring for a 1-year-old infant has been her biggest challenge. Under the current circumstances, Isabel relies solely on green peas and rice donated to her family monthly. This limited variety makes it difficult to ensure that her 1-year-old son can get the nutrition he needs. Isabel has also not been allocated a plot of land for farming which would have given her alternatives to supplement her and her children’s diet.

“In order to feed my son, I have to grind the rice into a porridge, but this is not the appropriate food for a 1-year-old. At first, this rice porridge gave him stomach problems, but I continued to feed it to him to at least ensure that he did not starve. I fear that one day he may have serious health problems because he is not getting the nutrients he needs to grow properly,” she said.

some days we only manage to eat 1 meal.

Apart from shortages of food, Isabel must manage her family’s needs without any way to make money. She used to sell seafood at her local market to provide everything her children needed. Now a single mother following her separation from her husband and having been forced from her home, she is now reliant on other displaced women for support.

“The other women here are the ones who help me with soap and clothing for my children. Otherwise, I can no longer afford these things because I do not have my business. I know that they will not be able to help me forever which is why I am desperate to find something to do to earn money,” said Isabel.

Support for conflict-affected families

During conflicts, women, especially those caring for children, are profoundly affected. Through our work supporting crisis-affected women after Cyclone Idai, Plan International Mozambique understands the needs of those going through difficult times.

Plan International Mozambique is currently supporting internally displaced persons from Cabo Delgado. The multi-partner project covers Chiure, Metuge, Montepuez and Mecufi districts, with a specific focus on protection, water, sanitation and hygiene, food security, non-food items and livelihoods. Plan International is also assisting internally displaced persons through interventions in Nampula.