Mozambique remains one of the world’s poorest countries, situated on the southeast coast of Africa. Eleven times the size of Ireland, more than half of its population of 32.1 million live in poverty.
With a life expectancy of only 61.3 years, communities face multiple daily challenges. These include accessing basic services, extreme drought and flooding, and an over-reliance on subsistence farming.
Mozambique is a scenic country with a tropical climate, rich in natural resources and biologically and culturally diverse. It has extensive coastline with some of Africa’s best natural harbours, giving it an important role in the maritime economy of the Indian Ocean.
A former colony of Portugal, Mozambique at one time provided mineral and agricultural products to its distant ruler. However, Mozambique’s turbulent recent history has kept it from taking advantage of these natural advantages, and from developing a stable, diversified economy. Following independence in 1975, Mozambique has been torn by internal conflict.
Ireland’s relationship with Mozambique
Ireland has worked in Mozambique since 1996, partnering with government institutions, UN agencies, civil society organisations, international research institutions and donors to deliver on its development priorities. These include promoting gender equality, strengthening governance, climate action and reducing humanitarian need.
International aid to Mozambique accounts for about 14% of gross national income. Approximately 65% of the population live in rural areas and are primarily engaged in subsistence agriculture. Violent cyclones in 2019 and 2023, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ongoing conflict in northern Mozambique have had a devastating impact.
The Mozambique Government’s five-year-plan - Programa Quinquenal do Governo 2020-2024 – aims to consolidate national unity and to develop the country’s economic and social infrastructure. It also has targets for sustainable and transparent management of natural resources and the environment.
In its Mozambique Mission Strategy 2020-2024 strategy Ireland sets out its ambition for Mozambique and two countries of secondary accreditation – Eswatini and Madagascar.
Irish Aid Fellowship programme
Through Irish Aid’s Fellowship programme, funding has been provided for a number of scholarships for citizens of Mozambique for full-time study at Masters Level.
A number of Irish companies have invested in Mozambique in areas such as agriculture, aquaculture and mining.
Climate action and the environment
Mozambique’s geographical location means the country is particularly prone to major climate events, such as tropical cyclones, droughts and floods. This has had a devastating impact on the lives of people, and an already weak public infrastructure.
With the support of Irish Aid, progress has been made in integrating climate action into government plans and projects. For example, Ireland supports the provincial governments of Niassa and Inhambane to reduce climate disaster risks, and to provide clean water and food for communities at risk.
This work includes promoting the use of solar power to pump water from deep wells, giving communities access to clean water all year round.
Adapting agriculture practices has also helped tackle the impacts of climate change to grow nutritious food. This adaptation process involves training farmers to plant drought-resistant crops in areas where the rains have become more erratic, and to use climate-smart planting methods in areas prone to flooding.
Solar Giraffe Project
Another initiative, The Solar Giraffe project, supported by Ireland, aims to develop sustainable cities and communities. It uses renewable energy to allow communities not connected to the electricity grid access information, and have social and economic interactions.
The programme also provides lighting, access to the internet, and facilitates the broadcasting of radio programming.
Ireland also strongly promotes the empowerment of women in Mozambique. One example is supporting the Ministry of Children, Women and Social Action in redesigning the strategy for the Malauna Women’s Empowerment Centre in Maputo Province in southern Mozambique. The project provides training, capacity building and counselling for unemployed women with limited education.
In Niassa Province, northern Mozambique, Ireland supports the Yao project, which enables women to be financially independent. It helps them produce crocheted toy animals to sell to tourists and around the country.
In Gaza province in the south of the country, Ireland supports further education of girls by providing them with bicycles to get to secondary school safely every day.
In partnership with the Institute for Multiparty Democracy (IMD), Ireland supports members of provincial assemblies, provincial government, and civil society organisations to better understand and monitor local governance.
IMD has carried out several training workshops across the country to ensure that local government organisations adhere to the new decentralisation legislation. Additionally, Ireland also actively supports the Provincial Executive Councils to provide health care, education, water services and sustainable food systems in Niassa and Inhambane provinces.
The Institute for Social and Economic Studies (ISEC), with Ireland’s support, contributes to better design solutions for Mozambique’s development challenges. It does this through improved decision-making based on data and evidence from the Institutes research.
Reducing humanitarian need
Ireland’s humanitarian funding has increased steadily in recent years, and it consistently ranks in the top 20 humanitarian donors. Ireland has responded quickly to rapidly deteriorating situations in many countries including Mozambique, providing critical humanitarian assistance to partners on the ground.
Responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic
During the Covid-19 Pandemic Ireland played a leading role in supporting partners and the government of Mozambique to deal with the crisis. As co-chair of the International Community Crisis Task Force (ICCT), and through its position as chair of the COVID-19 Operational Coordination Group, it helped tackle critical issues relating to the COVID-19 response in Mozambique. This included the introduction of new legislation to facilitate visas for humanitarian workers, and to smooth the import process for humanitarian aid.
In addition, Ireland provided €30 million to the Ministry of Health to support the COVID-19 response in Mozambique. With the UK and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Ireland initiated and led the development of a resource-tracking tool. This became a key tool for government and partners, allowing for accurate prediction of future flows of financial support per sector and ministry.
Ireland also initiated and provided support to develop a vaccine-tracker tool, which the Ministry of Health adopted to support COVID-19 vaccination planning. Through donor joint funding to the Ministry of Education, Ireland contributed €5 million for the continued provision of education during the pandemic.
Hygiene kits and the construction of toilets and water points in schools were also supported. Funds were also made available to supported remote learning with schools closed.
Supporting the elderly to access social benefits
Herina is an 80-year-old woman living in Tete province, western Mozambique.
Herina was supported by HelpAge International to access the government-funded Basic Social Subsidy Programme (PSSB). While older people are entitled to this social benefit, many miss out because they do not have the required identity documents.
With support from Irish Aid, HelpAge works with Older Citizen Monitor groups to support older people like Hernia to get identity cards and to enrol in the PSSB. This is particularly important because the impacts of climate change are often most severe for older people. They are often solely reliant on food from their own farms. If harvests fail due to severe weather, older people have very little supplemental income to cope.