Trust is a crucial element for peacebuilding, recovery, and development, especially in fragile contexts like Northern Mozambique. In the wake of the trauma induced by conflict, when the social fabric has been torn apart, trust is a critical ingredient that helps to reconcile and unite disparate groups and dispel suspicion. This is why so much of our work in this conflict-affected region is anchored at the community level. To begin to restore trust between and within groups is a first step to help to preserve and restore social cohesion–in support of peacebuilding in the longer-term. Let me give an example:
Picture a small, rural village where daily life is slow and uneventful. One day, an armed group attacks the village, forcing the community to flee in different directions. Some walk for days and find shelter with family members in distant towns. Others have nowhere to go and end up at a temporary lodging center before being transferred to a relocation site set up a few hundred meters from another village. Among them is Alima, a 20-year-old who loves sports. She settles in but needs a source of livelihood and stability to rebuild a new life in this environment. Doubt and fear loom across both the community in the relocation site and the host community. They speak different languages, practice varied customs, and are unfamiliar with one another.
One day, the local Peacebuilding Committee, which includes displaced and host community members, organizes a football game. Alima loves football. She joins the women’s team and plays against other girls from the village. The energy is high. Conversations spark among the youth in the crowd. Children play. As the teams share wins and losses, compare tips, and attract supporters from other communities, a silver lining of trust emerges–a critical first step to building social cohesion and community resilience.
From emergency to recovery and development
Promoting social cohesion is one of the many ways the Government of Mozambique and its partners help communities to better integrate and adapt to their new reality–as a way of recovering from the violent insurgency that has afflicted Mozambique’s northern region since 2017.
After an initial phase of emergency support to displaced persons and host communities in Cabo Delgado, the focus shifted to recovery and resilience-building –to support a development trajectory. The World Bank, guided by our Strategy for Fragility, Conflict, and Violence 2020-2025, adjusted its portfolio and pipeline of projects in Mozambique to fund actions that help to build resilience to fragility and conflict while addressing grievances and reducing vulnerabilities in areas under conflict.
Today, the priority is to help communities settle into their new reality and consolidate peace. This entails assisting people like Alima to resume livelihoods and jobs, access services, and engage as full citizens. Moving forward, it will also involve rehabilitating public infrastructure and improving access to health care and education.
Hope and Change
At two years since our work in Northern Mozambique began, it is encouraging to see how investments are increasing access to essential services, promoting job creation, and empowering people with access to civil registration and identification documents. Economic activities are resuming, and many have decided to return to their villages and communities. These efforts are not limited to Cabo Delgado but extend to other needy areas of Northern Mozambique.
Let's look at some of the results so far:
- 28 established Peacebuilding Committees offer a space for dialogue and to make joint decisions about matters affecting both displaced and host communities. These committees also organize training on peaceful coexistence, citizenship, and peacebuilding, facilitating dialogues and recreational activities like sports events.
- Over 2,800 people graduated from vocational training courses. Many have become electricians, carpenters, masons, and mechanics, receiving equipment to perform their new jobs. Others joined entrepreneurship and business management courses, helping them access economic opportunities.
- 75,000 people received birth certificates and identification documents. Estimates indicate that 80% of the one million displaced people in Cabo Delgado had no identification. To fill this gap, we helped the government successfully pilot “one-stop-shop” mobile brigades that enabled people to obtain a birth certificate and an identity card at the same location, at the same time, and at no cost. In the future, the government will resume civil registration services in the northern districts, allowing local authorities to provide this service to returnees.
- Over 70,000 households received agricultural and fishing inputs as support to recover their livelihoods. 890 others joined cash-for-work programs.
- The government launched a Management Information System for the North (MIS), a digital platform to share information and monitor progress on the ground, accessible to all at any time.
- Public infrastructure is being rehabilitated, rebuilt, and equipped. Seven boreholes, 26 climate resilience water sources, and 204 collective sanitation stations have been built. Five health centers, 129 classrooms, eight houses for nurses, and 54 for teachers are under construction in the south of Cabo Delgado province. Going forward, the World Bank will continue to invest in the rehabilitation of public buildings destroyed by the conflict in the northern districts, including health centers, schools, public administration buildings, markets, and multipurpose community centers.
These efforts are helping to support recovery and build resilience to fragility among displaced people and host communities. They also contribute to restoring livelihoods and strengthening the social contract between citizens and the state. This, in turn, sets the foundations for the region’s long-term development. The path from emergency to recovery and development may be long and uneven. Still, it is exciting to see what the future brings to the people of Cabo Delgado, who, like Alima, just want to rebuild their lives. And to play football.
The work in the North of Mozambique, anchored in the Northern Crisis Recovery Project, benefits from a coalition of actors supporting the government-led reconstruction plan for the North, embodied in its Plano de Reconstrução de Cabo Delgado (PRCD 2021 - 2024) and the Programa de Resiliência e Desenvolvimento Integrado do Norte de Moçambique (PREDIN). Provincial government authorities lead the work on the ground, with the World Bank and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) support. The work is coordinated closely with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Government of Mozambique’s Agency for Integrated Development of the North (ADIN), UN partners, non-governmental organizations, and other local stakeholders.