Ocluvela, which means “hope” in the local language, was a five-year USAID P.L. 480 Title II multi-year assistance program implemented by World Vision in eight districts of Zambezia Province, Mozambique. It was implemented from August 2008 to July 2013 and had both a commodity component and a community-based food security component.
The commodity provided was wheat. Mozambique must depend on imported wheat to supply its bakers, food manufacturers and homes. A modest portion of annual wheat requirements was donated through the Title II food aid program each year. It was sold through an open tender process that created opportunities for small and medium-sized millers to bid. Since these companies buy wheat in small lots rather than commercialize-sized lots that are traded on the world market, and they do not have the ability to access international credit in order to import wheat, the sales increased access to wheat for producing flour, helped build the capacity of smaller firms, and expanded milling capacity in the country.
Proceeds from the wheat sale were used to support a community-based food security program in Zambezia, which was aligned with the Government of Mozambique’s agriculture and nutrition strategies. Although Zambezia is the most populated province in Mozambique, it remains isolated and remote. One of the consequences of this has been relatively poor access to services, including health, education, and agriculture.
The main goal of Ocluvela was to reduce food insecurity in the targeted areas through the use of an integrated approach that addresses the multi-sectoral causes of food insecurity. The program addressed the unique nature of chronic food insecurity coupled with vulnerability to external shocks by focusing on livelihoods, nutrition and health, and community resilience.
Ocluvela reached 27,777 farmers with agriculture extension services. Due to the introduction of silos and community grain storage warehouses, post-harvest grain storage loss was reduced from 40 percent to 10 percent. Conservation farming was the most successful agricultural technology introduced, with the adoption rate increasing from close to 0 percent to more than 65 percent, which led to decreased hunger as the average maize yield about doubled (farmers indicated this in focus group discussions).
The 9,899 households that were reached with agriculture and marketing activities saw an average increase of 35 percent in prices of their products due to formation of farmers associations and linkages with private companies.
In order to mitigate the effects of disasters, Ocluvela built the capacity of 50,608 people in 70 communities through the Gerando model, a holistic, community-based approach to reducing the impact of sudden onset and chronic disasters in communities by increasing community resilience, adopting pro-active strategies to anticipate problems (including simulations of disaster situations), strengthening local coping mechanisms, and building community capacity.
The project also reached 202,312 people with health and nutrition behavior change messages to increase access to health services, good nutrition, and knowledge of food and water hygiene practices. Ocluvela relied on community health volunteers to communicate messages to people like Catarina Jaime, a grandmother caring for her 5-year-old grandson.
“Milagre came to our house when he was only four months old, after his mother passed away,” Catarina explained. “He was always sick and malnourished due to the early introduction of other foods groups in his diet.”
Through an Ocluvela mothers and father group, Catarina learned from the community health volunteer about providing a nutritionally balanced diet for Milagre and was taught how to make enriched porridge for him.
“I saw my grandson growing strong and healthy! My family has changed our eating habits, and we hardly get sick,” Catarina said.
According to volunteers, men equally participated in health and nutrition activities, which helped reinforce positive outcomes for their whole families.
While there is more work to be done, focus group participants made it clear that through Ocluvela, USAID and World Vision were successful in bringing “hope” for livelihoods, health, and resilience to remote populations of Zambezia.