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Violence, fear and hunger still stalk the people of Cabo Delgado

Water point: Tome Patricio stands in front of the rehabilitated borehole in Nseue

Seven years after violence erupted in the northern province of Mozambique, the memories linger on.

Cabo Delgado, the northern province of Mozambique, has been plagued by violence since 2017. People, who have watched their friends and family members killed – often decapitated or cut into pieces – tortured or raped and their homes and farms burnt to the ground, have been forced to flee to neighbouring areas. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), at the height of the conflict at least a million people were displaced and in January 2024, about 582,000 people had still not returned home. In February of this year there was a resurgence of conflict in the area.

People live in fear

For those who have escaped, life is difficult – they have to try and reconstruct their livelihoods among strangers while dealing with the trauma of their memories. Most have to live in overcrowded camps with little access to food, safe water, healthcare, education or livelihoods. There have also been reports of tensions between host communities and the “internally displaced people (IDP)” and abuse of women and children.

ForAfrika and partners, such as Humedica and GFFO, are trying to ease their burden – but fear stalks those who have fled and those who have received them into their environment.

“We have heard terrible stories,” says community leader Tome Patricio, shaking his head. He quickly glosses over reports of beheadings and people being mutilated by insurgents. It is as if speaking about them might tempt fate in his relatively peaceful surroundings.

“These are our friends, our brothers and sisters, our family,” he says, adding that displaced people have been welcomed into the community. Their tales, however, have rattled residents.

“We don’t want to plant a lot in our fields – we don’t know if it will be us next and we will have to run,” Tome says, a glint of fear in his eyes.

Due to this cautionary measure as well as a lot of rain, farmers in the area have not harvested their usual amount of produce and food insecurity is on the rise.

The lush and tranquil surroundings, brimming with green and the laughter of children, belie the fact that this area is often hit by extreme weather events. According to the World Bank, Mozambique is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. It has experienced severe tropical storms and cyclones which have decimated crops, homes and other infrastructure, often cutting people off from markets, clinics and schools.

Because of all these factors, the government and local community leaders in Cabo Delgado have made a list of families who are most vulnerable. ForAfrika used this list in the districts of Montepuez and Mueda to decide who to assist first with borehole rehabilitation, food rations and other essentials, such as hygiene kits and latrines.

Tome and others have been recruited into a water committee that looks after the community borehole.

“Things are better now,” says Tome, adding that the borehole is able to provide more people with a source of clean, safe water.

Queen Cecilia Calisto

The water committee at the borehole