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FEATURE STORYAugust 9, 2023

Restoring Hope in Conflict-torn Northern Mozambique: Identification Documents and Livelihoods


An internally displaced woman receives a new identification document in Metuge District, Cabo Delgado Province. Photo: ©UNOPS


  • Over 75,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in conflict-afflicted Cabo Delgado Province received birth certificates and new identification cards – critical for their civil rights.
  • 2,800 people affected by the conflict benefitted from entrepreneurship and business management training, helping them access economic opportunities.
  • 28 peace-building committees, 74 women and youth associations, and eight child protection committees in 15 relocation sites have helped to improve social cohesion in Cabo Delgado province. Totaling 1,860 members, these committees and associations have helped IDPs and host communities to regain a sense of dignity and belonging.

Metuge, June 2023–When an armed group began attacking their coastal village in the middle of the night, Ancha Issufo and her three teenage daughters were forced to flee by sea. That would be the last time Ancha would see her husband. Ancha and her girls fled from Mocímboa da Praia District in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado to Pemba, the provincial capital, around 200 km away. 

“We spent four days on a crowded boat, leaving everything behind: our clothes, belongings, and documents,” she says sadly. When they finally reached safety, they moved into one of the five relocation sites for internally displaced persons in Metuge District, on the city’s outskirts.

Ancha is among the 800,000 people displaced by the ongoing violent conflict in Northern Mozambique over the past five years. Hundreds of thousands across the volatile region face severe hunger and recurrent epidemics. Many have lost their families, homes, and livelihoods. Displaced, paperless, and jobless, Ancha and many others have struggled to rebuild their lives in a foreign place.

Civil registration for people displaced by conflict

Two years after arriving in Metuge, Ancha, and her daughters have found new hope, livelihoods, and ways to integrate into the community with help from the World Bank, the Government of Mozambique, and other partners.

Although far from home, life has returned to some degree of normalcy. We got new identification documents, which have allowed two of my daughters to return to school and another to join a local sewing course, said Ancha.

For the past three years, the World Bank has supported the Government of Mozambique in addressing early recovery activities in the conflict-torn northern region through the Northern Crisis Recovery Project (NCRP). The project is helping repair public infrastructure and foster social cohesion, supporting not only those displaced but also the communities that host them. The aim is to support Cabo Delgado’s longer-term recovery and development, mitigating conflict risks and building resilience. On the ground, people are gradually finding work, resuming economic activities, and recovering access to essential services.

To this end, the World Bank helped the government to successfully pilot a “one-stop-shop” process that enables people to obtain a birth certificate and a national identity card at the same location, at the same time, and at no cost.

The registration process started in May 2022 and gradually covered 15 relocation sites in southern Cabo Delgado, attending over 75,000 beneficiaries to acquire their identification documents. Going forward, the NCRP is helping the government to resume civil registration services in the northern districts, allowing local authorities to provide this service to returnees, said Lizardo Narvaez Marulanda, World Bank Task Team Leader for the NCRP.

This initiative, supported through the Digital Governance and Economy Project (EDGE), the Identification for Development Initiative (ID4D), and the NCRP, prioritized those who lost their personal identification documents due to conflict and those most likely to have difficulties obtaining official documentation.

“These successful efforts in the North have provided a blueprint for increasing access to civil registration and identification for vulnerable people across Mozambique,” added Olivia Rakotomalala, World Bank Senior Public Sector Specialist.

Restoring dignity, hope, and livelihoods

Beyond an identification document, people displaced by violence need livelihoods and social integration to recover their sense of dignity. Peacebuilding committees, skills training, and economic opportunities are some of the ways the project is helping meet this need.

"More than running away from violence, we need to recover our dignity as citizens of this country,said Ancha. She now divides her time between caring for her daughters and being a member of one of the 28 newly established Peacebuilding Committees.

Members of a Peacebuilding Committee from Metuge District, Cabo Delgado Province, show their skills training graduation certificates. Photo: ©UNOPS

As a committee member, she helps organize and participate in youth dialogues and sports games where participants regain a sense of belonging and leave their troubles behind. Others participate in cash-for-work programs or receive support to resume fishing and agricultural activities. Two-thousand and eight hundred have participated in skills training, entrepreneurship, and business management training courses offered, helping them access various economic opportunities. Overall, these initiatives benefit people from nearly 70,000 poor and vulnerable households.

Women's soccer games, with players from different displacement centers in Metuge District, help to foster social cohesion and resilience to conflict. Photo: ©UNOPS

The work in the North of Mozambique benefits from a coalition of actors supporting the government-led Cabo Delgado Reconstruction Program (PRCD). Provincial government authorities lead the work on the ground, with the World Bank and the 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.


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