The European Union (EU) has pledged 37.5 million euros (about 39 million US dollars) to help Mozambique reduce food insecurity and chronic malnutrition over the next five years.

Mozambique’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Nyeleti Mondlane, and the EU ambassador, Sven von Burgsdorff, signed two financing conventions for the aid here Thursday. The first, for 30 million euros, is intended to help reach the government’s target of reducing chronic malnutrition among children under five years of age from 43 per cent to 35 per cent by 2020.

This grant will be disbursed under the National Indicative Programme of the 11th European Development Fund. Interventions will be concentrated in the two most populous of Mozambique’s 11 provinces, Nampula and Zambezia. They will begin in early 2017 and will last for five years, under a partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

The second financing convention, for 7.5 million euros, is less specific. According to a media statement, it is intended “to support the government’s development strategy through the application of solid development programmes and policies and the promotion of a coherent and informed approach of political dialogue and development co-operation”.

It will “seek to create conditions to respond to the various needs related with the identification, formulation, implementation and monitoring of government programmes and policies in the context of the 11th European Development Fund”.

Giving details on the measures to reduce malnutrition, Mondlane said the EU funds will help build and expand water supply and sanitation in Zambezia and Nampula provinces, train local staff, and involve community health workers in the drive to reduce food insecurity.

She described the financing conventions as “a valuable contribution to national efforts to secure development and sustainable growth”.

Von Burgsdorff said that the two conventions demonstrate “the lasting commitment” of the EU to Mozambique, and particularly to the most vulnerable strata of the Mozambican population.

“We know that it is not easy to alter these numbers (of chronically malnourished children), but we also know that Mozambique as enormous potential and can invert this picture”, he added. “Signing these financing conventions will make it possible to help attain the government’s targets in the nutrition area.”