The British government has announced a grant of 3.6 million pounds sterling (about 3.3 million US dollars) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to help fight malnutrition in Mozambique.

A WFP media statement received here Monday said this contribution from UKAid would provide nutritional support over the next six months to approximately 60,000 people in the worst-affected provinces of Cabo Delgado, Gaza, Nampula, Tete, Sofala and Zambezia.

The majority of those who will receive nutritional support are malnourished children under five years of age and pregnant and nursing women.

UKAid is delighted to be working together in partnership with WFP to help some of the most vulnerable people in Mozambique, said Cate Turton, the Head of UKAid in Mozambique.

Some 43 per cent of Mozambican children under the age of five have suffered from chronic malnutrition, which causes stunting which can affect not only physical development but also cognitive skills.

The northern provinces are the worst affected because of a combination of such factors as food insecurity, poor nutritional habits and knowledge, lack of clean water and decent sanitation, and severe rural poverty.

The southern and central provinces were hit in 2016 by the southern Africa drought, largely caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon. In these parts of the country 1.4 million people are acutely food insecure and in need of food assistance, says the WFP.

The number may rise to 2.3 million by March and the first of the 2017 harvest will not be gathered before April.

We’re very grateful for this contribution from the British people, said Karin Manente, the WFP Country Director in Mozambique. Poor nutrition has far-reaching consequences for young children as well as for pregnant and breastfeeding women. These funds enable us to provide vital support to the most vulnerable people.

The WFP is supporting the Mozambican government in implementing the Nutritional Rehabilitation Programme for the treatment of moderate and severe acute malnutrition, and providing technical assistance with national nutrition surveys.