"We don't want to be forgotten. We know that other cyclones can hit Mozambique any time soon"

November 15, 2022

In the central area of Mozambique, 12 women meet weekly to manage, plan and coordinate a collective savings group and diversified their livelihood to increase their economic resilience. Most of them met after the 3 years old catastrophe left behind by Cyclone Idai and Kenneth, considered the worst cyclones ever to make landfall in the African continent. Mutual trust and hope are the foundation of this long-lasting collective partnership.

In the Nhamatanda Market, with brave eyes and confident postures, women are organized in a line facing the UNDP team. Today they are together for a different purpose: they want to share their story as frontline resistance to the extreme weather and climate change impact.

Figure 1: "Women with Business License," a UNDP project implemented in partnership with UN Women in Nhamatanda district, Sofala Province.

UNDP/Rebecca Navega

Since 2019, UNDP has been operating the Mozambique Recovery Facility, a 5-year programme grounded by a basket fund donorship with support of the European Union, China, India, Norway, Netherlands, Finland, and Canada.

In close relationship with the Government of Mozambique and a myriad of partnerships such as NGOs, academia, and the private sector, the Mozambique Recovery Facility proposes a fast-track implementation to the recovery, resilience and sustainability of livelihood, housing, reconstruction, and institutional strengthening of affected areas by the cyclones.

Using the UNDP tested 3x6 approach, livelihood restoration of the vulnerable population group is implemented through the principles of inclusion, ownership, and sustainability. The participants are considered active partners in their own socioeconomic recovery and development. Until now, Mozambique Recovery Facility reached approximately 200 thousand households in Sofala and Cabo Delgado provinces.

The consequences of the cyclones were more severe to women, as they represent one of the most vulnerable layers of Mozambican society. In Sofala, women-led household relies on the revenue of activities such as agriculture and micro and small business, which were deeply disarticulated by the floods. One of the participants, Ella, shares that for the past 15 years she has been the primary livelihood provider to her family. "I have no one to assist me in my business. Thanks to the UNDP recovery programme, I currently employ 2 other people, and I know that if I fail, they won't have jobs either. I consider them a part of my family".

Figure 2: Ella participant of the Women with business license project

UNDP/Rebecca Navega

In a well-set shop, Ella offers meals and beverages to the public of the Nhamatanda market. She is a participant in the UNDP project "Women with business license", implemented in partnership with UN Women. The project consisted in registration of the micro and small businesses established with support of MRF  followed by business skill training, startup kits and the establishment of loan and savings groups to trigger the access to finance needed to operate their business. 

A few steps away from Ella's shop, we can see the vibrant colors of Julia's tent. She sells Capulanas, a typical colorful fabric of Mozambique, of which she is very proud of her curatorship. Since she got her business license, Julia has felt way safer. "Now I can travel around the country to purchase different capulanas, and police will not stop me. You know why? Because now I am a certified seller, and I am safe".

Her timid voice and earnest gestures change while she shows the variety of beautiful pieces she has to offer in the market. A welcoming smile frames her saleswoman abilities: "I am very proud of my products, but sincerely I am afraid of the future. I am grateful for all the support I received. We don't want to be forgotten. We know other cyclones can hit Mozambique any time soon".

Figure 3: Julia Zeca Jose participant of Women with business License project

UNDP/Rebecca Navega

The scary future that Julia describes is a potential reality. Mozambique is considered one of the world's most vulnerable countries to be affected by climate change despite its effort to keep emissions low (such as reducing the annual deforestation by 85%) and the adaptation, implementation, and mitigation measure to resist climate change. Nevertheless, the impact of external factors threatens the socio-economic development of Mozambique such as the raising temperature and sea levels, changing precipitation patterns and the global extreme weather.

Figure 4: Maria Paulo Simao participant in Women with business license project

UNDP/Rebecca Navega

"What we want is to know that we can count on you to continue to grow," says Maria, another integrant of the group who sells second handed clothes for women and men. "Because of my shop, I could send my 3 kids to the university. One of them is in Maputo. With the business license, I can get more products without being stopped by authorities, and I can access more financial opportunities. Unfortunately, I am constantly worried about the rainy season. What if I lose everything again?"

Isabel remembers a time when heavy rains were not something to worry about but to be happy for. She describes Nhamatanda district as a generous land for farming with pleasant weather, very different from now.

All her colleagues in the market notice her wisdom and kindness. "She is very strong, and she continues to trade food in the market even though it took her a lot of time and effort to rebuild her tent after the cyclones. She is a fighter", recalls her son, who is also working with her.

Figure 5: Isabel participant of the Women with license project

UNDP/Rebecca Navega

Crossing the roads of Sofala province in a picturesque landscape, we arrived in the resettlement area of Nadja, where we met the leadership of a 40-women group that attended different vocational training. Palmira's enthusiastic personality is the amalgam of this group.

She is responsible for maintaining the loan and savings group operating and protecting and fighting gender-based violence in the locality. When asked about her hopes for the future, a great smile irradiates the room "I hope we all thrive in our businesses and become successful businesswomen. As stronger we get, less affected we will be with the rains".

These women will not be left behind. UNDP continues to support the Mozambicans in recovering from extreme weather impacts as the severity and frequency of climate change events are unlikely to decrease in the following years. As the rainy season of Mozambique starts now, UNDP is alert and ready to take action if required.

Figure 6: Palmira participant GBV and vocational training in Ndeja locality, Sofala Province.

UNDP/Rebecca Navega

Figure 7: Nhamatanda Market sellers with UNDP team.

UNDP/Rebecca Navega