Rapid Response Plan: Cabo Delgado Province Mozambique, May - December 2020


Overview of the Crisis

One year on from Tropical Cyclone Kenneth’s landfall in April 2019, the humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique has deteriorated due to consecutive climatic shocks, insecurity and violence, leading to significant displacement, disruption of livelihoods and lack of access to basic services. Cabo Delgado— home to over 2.2 million people—has been hit by a wave of violence since October 2017, which escalated significantly since January 2020. Over 300 violent incidents have been recorded to date, of which 71 were reported from January to March 2020, including attacks on villages by non-state armed actors and clashes between security forces and armed groups. According to media, more than over 500 civilians have been killed since October 2017, along with an estimated 200 security forces members and 250 alleged armed actors. Moreover, killings, beheadings, abductions and kidnappings of civilians (including girls and women), possible forced recruitment of children into armed groups, and burning and looting of public and private properties and infrastructure have been reported. Attacks by non-state armed groups have destroyed more than 107 schools (including a teacher training centre) so far, affecting more than 56,000 children and almost 1,100 teachers.
Over the past six months, attacks have increased in scale and scope, with Palma, Mocimboa da Praia, Nangade, Muidumbe, Macomia and Quissanga districts hardest-hit.

Displacement has risen rapidly as violence has escalated, with 211,485 people now estimated to be internally displaced in Cabo Delgado, according to IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM)’s data. The majority of internally displaced people (IDP) are children, followed by women. Food and shelter/non-food items (NFIs) and livelihood remain the most-needed assistance for IDPs, according to an assessment conducted in May 2020. While there are settlements and accommodation centres, the majority of IDPs are being hosted by families and relatives.

While violence was previously confined to smaller villages, attacks on district capitals have increased in 2020, leading to larger displacement flows. It is estimated that violence, especially around Mocimboa da Praia and Quissanga, has caused the displacement of over 50,000 people between March and May 2020. On 23 and 25 March 2020 respectively, armed actors temporarily occupied the towns of Mocimboa da Praia Muidumbe and Quissanga, forcibly displacing over 24,000 people,2 and in a recent wave of displacement, over 10,149 IDPs fleeing from Quissanga district, including 3,620 children, temporarily sought accommodation in five collective centres in Metuge. Similarly, on 28 May 2020, armed actors attacked and temporarily occupied the town of Macomia, causing additional displacements to other districts as the town hosted 30,000 IDPs.3 Areas hosting the largest number of displaced people include district capitals such as Montepuez, Chiuri, Mueda, and Pemba city, and coastal districts and islands, such as Ibo, Macomia, Mocimba da Praia, Quissanga, Muidumbe and Matemo. More than 13,800 IDPs have reached Cabo Delgado’s provincial capital, Pemba, in search of safety and humanitarian assistance.

The violence and insecurity have compounded the situation of people impacted by climatic shocks, including Cyclone Kenneth in April 2019 and flooding in December 2019 and January 2020, forcing many people to cope with a ‘double crisis’. Cyclone Kenneth—the strongest cyclone to ever hit the African continent—left 374,000 people in need, of whom an estimated 200,000 are still living in destroyed, damaged homes or makeshift shelters, and 6,600 are still living in five resettlement sites in Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces, in urgent need of assistance and protection. In addition, from October 2019 to February 2020, heavy rains, strong winds and floods affected more than 14,970 people in Cabo Delgado, according to the National Disaster Management Institute (Instituto Nacional de Gestão de Calamidades, INGC) and the National Institute of Meteorology (Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia, INAM). As a result, many damages to public infrastructures were reported, most notably the collapse of various bridges which left up to one million people directly and indirectly isolated from basic services and supplies as well as humanitarian assistance.

Within this context of multiple and compounding shocks, lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities, together with poor hygiene practices, have led to disease outbreaks, including cholera. Over 960 cases and 15 deaths due to cholera had been reported by the end of May 2020, according to tests undertaken by provincial authorities. Many cases of diarrhoea have also been reported in Cabo Delgado, especially affecting the districts of Ibo, Macomia and Mocimboa da Praia.

Food insecurity has also increased due to violence and disruption of livelihoods. Five districts in Cabo Delgado—Mocimba Da Praia, Macomia, Ibo, Quissanga and Nangade—were classified as facing Crisis (IPC 3) food insecurity during the latest analysis (valid until February 2020), out of nine districts analyzed. More than one in five people (160,088 out of 736,277) covered in the analysis in Cabo Delgado were in Crisis (IPC 3) and above. Moreover, a total of 42,114 people were identified in Stressed (IPC 2). Livelihoods were severely disrupted by Cyclone Kenneth, especially in Ibo, Macomia and Quissanga districts, which were hardest-hit. Pests also affected crops in some districts of Cabo Delgado, causing agricultural losses.
Prices of fuel and basic commodities - such as rice, maize, beans and vegetable oil- have increased over the past months, increasing the challenges faced by families in accessing adequate food. Due to security conditions, the annual sectoral assessments have been put on hold. However, according to the recent Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) estimates,4 many poor households in Cabo Delgado are expected to continue facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through September 2020. The latter might result in a severe deterioration of the overall food and nutrition security which could have a significant impact on livelihood.

The overlap of insecurity and climatic shocks with pre-existing vulnerabilities in Cabo Delgado—including poverty, marginalization and harmful social and gender norms—has significantly heightened protection risks, especially for children, women and girls (including pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls), women and child-headed households, people with disabilities (including people with albinism), older persons and people living with HIV/AIDS. Cabo Delgado has the second highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the country (53 per cent, compared to the national average of 43 per cent), the highest illiteracy rate (more than 67 per cent), and a history of economic marginalization and high unemployment. As a result of the interlocking shocks they are having to face, people in Cabo Delgado are exposed to: violence against civilians, including loss of life; trafficking; exploitation, abuse and neglect; sexual and genderbased violence (GBV); sexual exploitation and abuse; child labour; child marriage; and exclusion and discrimination related to lack of documentation, land and property rights. As families face disruptions to their livelihoods and growing economic insecurity, the risk that they will resort to negative coping mechanisms will rise, especially for women and girls, including sexual exploitation, forced/early marriage, trafficking, child labour, illicit activities, and recruitment into armed groups. Psychosocial distress is also likely to have increased dramatically due to the trauma of consecutive crises, loss of family members and assets, displacement and precarious living conditions.

On top of violence and climatic shocks, people in Cabo Delgado are now faced with potential humanitarian and socio-economic impacts due to COVID-19. The first case of COVID-19 was reported in Mozambique on 22 March 2020. As of 30 May, the country had recorded 254 confirmed cases. Cabo Delgado is disproportionately affected by the outbreak, with Pemba and Afungi registering more than 50 per cent of the overall caseload with 145 cases reported.
During the outbreak, loss of livelihoods, limited access to education and challenges in the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance may force vulnerable populations to resort to negative coping mechanisms, as outlined above. Furthermore, a possible lockdown of the province and restrictions on imports could lead to higher prices for basic commodities (including fuel). The Humanitarian Country Team in Mozambique has developed a separate Emergency Appeal for the COVID-19 response (May-December 2020), which incorporates both the public health response and action to tackle the most urgent secondary consequences of the outbreak. The appeal complements the Government of Mozambique’s National Plan for Preparedness and Response to COVID-19, which calls for US$260 million for the public health response, and the Government’s Multi-Sectoral Preparedness and Response Plan.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit