8 March 2022 - Promoting a participatory and gender-sensitive approach to conflict resolution, a UN-Habitat project in Mozambique is empowering girls and women to learn skills to build homes that would replace the ones they lost in conflict.
The project to provide inclusive, sustainable housing solutions to displaced women and girls affected by the conflict in the country’s northern region is an example of ensuring that the female population of the society receive the same opportunities as men and can contribute their fair share.
The pilot initiative in Marocani to promote sustainable integration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is being implemented in coordination with the country’s Agency for the Integrated Development of the North (ADIN), the Provincial Government of Cabo Delgado, the Ministry of Gender Youth and Social Action, and local authorities, in partnership with UN Women and with support from the government of Norway.
Internal conflict between government and non-state armed groups has been raging in northern region of Mozambique and Cabo Delgado Province since 2017. The insurgency, which recently has intensified, had caused at least 4,500 lives and displaced approximately 800,000 by the end of last year.
To this high human cost is added the impact of the destruction of physical and human capital, devastation of lives and livelihoods, as well as obstacles to economic prospects linked to the exploitation of the large reservoir of liquefied natural gas on the offshore cost of the province.
“Before the attacks, we had our own way of living. We had our own houses; we had our own businesses but when those attacks happened, we had to flee and leave everything behind,” said 41-year-old Maria, currently living in the community of Marocani where the project is taking place.
The main objective of the project is to strengthen the mechanisms for the protection of displaced women and girls throughout the process, from the time they are given temporary accommodation to the final resettlement stage.
The project gave them the self-reconstruction training, materials, and the supervision so they can build durable homes for themselves, thus gaining resiliency and ultimate safety.
The local authorities, in turn, were trained in participatory and resilient planning, in the hope of replicating this type of initiative.
“We are working with the men; we are building together. Before this opportunity, I didn’t know how to build a house but now I am happy to be learning with the men. We have even agreed that the last house will be built by the women only, from beginning until the end,” added project beneficiary Ana Maria.
The women selected to participate in the construction activities have been given an opportunity to not only support other women in accessing adequate housing but to also develop skills they had previously been excluded from learning simply because they are women.
With 900 IDP families still in Marocani, the UN-Habitat project has been structured so different segments of the female population can acquire different types of human settlements planning, management, and building skills.
The project also aligns with technical recommendations and tools, adopted by the Mozambican authorities as a reference for their Resilience and Peace Building Programme, supported also by all the development partners in northern Mozambique.
“When you don’t know where you are going to sleep, your heart is restless. Now that we have a house, our children have a sense of safety. Now that we are about to enter the rainy season, we have a roof over our heads,” said Claudia, a 28-year-old woman who left her home as a result of the conflict.