Maputo — The European Commission has granted Mozambique 67.3 million euros (about 87.4 million US dollars) to reduce hunger and chronic malnutrition, in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The first of the MDGs, which were agreed at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The specific targets are to halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day, and to halve, over the same period, the proportion of people suffering from hunger.
The new programme supported by the European Commission seeks to improve agricultural and fisheries production, and to increase the access to food of vulnerable groups, particularly women and children.
Cited in a press release issued in Brussels on Thursday, the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, said “Food security lies at the heart of development. Hungry people lack the energy to take care of their families, work or go to school. Malnutrition has disastrous and irreversible effects on the physical and mental development of children, which hampers their potential”
“With today's funding we show that we stand side by side with the people of Mozambique in fighting hunger and poverty”, he continued. “Projects like this bring us one step closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals together by 2015 and to our ultimate goal of a hunger-free world”.
The goals of the new European funding, the release adds, “include improving production of smallholder farmers and fishermen, for example by providing greater access to inputs such as seeds, fertiliser or tools. Other measures aim at reducing post-harvest losses, promoting home gardens for women and vaccinating chickens (to reduce the alarming mortality rate)’
The project “will also improve links with markets or buyers by investing in small-scale infrastructure that is currently lacking (e.g. storage), rural roads, information systems and electrification of markets, as well as supporting farmers' organizations”.
The release pledges that “nutrition education will also be part of all activities: changing people's behaviour is a key element in reducing malnutrition in Mozambique. Specific support will also be provided to the national fortification programme for vegetable oil, sugar and wheat, maize and cassava flours”.
The European Commission’s “MDG Initiative” is funded to the tune of a billion euros, and is intended to focus on those MDGs which countries risk not meeting by the deadline of 2015. The MDGs in question are those on reducing hunger, cutting child mortality by two thirds, and maternal mortality by three quarters, and reducing by half the number of people with no permanent access to clean water and decent sanitation.
Mozambique is the largest beneficiary of the MDG initiative. This programme will be operated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Food and Nutritional Security Technical Secretariat within the Agriculture Ministry (SETSAN) will monitor the programme and report on its results.