Mozambique: Communities and the potential of the DGM

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Editor's note: This is the first in a series of three DGM Global Blogs highlighting our work as the Global Executing Agency of the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (DGM) and encouraging understanding about the critical role indigenous peoples and local communities play in ensuring ecosystems are managed sustainably.

Contributed by: Luis Barquin-Valle, DGM Global Executing Agency at Conservation International

It is always exciting to find concrete examples of how forests and sustainable land use are integrated as natural climate solutions and contribute to rural development in the achievement of key sustainable development goals (SDGs). Mozambique’s natural forests cover 43% of the country and represent an important contributor to its rural development.

Since 2012, deforestation in Mozambique has seen a decreasing trend and recent news confirmed the country could be rewarded for these efforts. 

In February 2019, Mozambique signed one of the first Emission Reduction Payment Agreements (ERPA) with the Carbon Fund of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), unlocking $50 million to support the country’s ongoing efforts to reduce carbon emissions from its forest sector. This milestone is part of a joint effort supported by the World Bank through the Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) Portfolio. In terms of program integration and harmonizing multilateral investment, Mozambique seems to be a unique example worth understanding.


The DGM country project in Mozambique (MozDGM) started in 2018, and it is part of a larger and longer-term investment to support forest-dependent communities and sustainable development. The road is long and there is a lot of work ahead, but the expectations for ILM and MozDGM are very high and provide an interesting case study as new countries join and fully implement the DGM.

So what does it entail?

MozDGM will support the implementation of 8-10 community-based natural resource management subprojects organized by communities and community-based organizations (CBOs). This support will come in many forms, including capacity building, technical assistance and financing for subprojects activities. With a focus on value chains (agriculture, forestry, fisheries and nature-based tourism), the subprojects are expected to contribute to the generation of rural income and reduction of deforestation by fostering sustainable land use and natural resource management, promoting economic activities and rural livelihood development and enhancing climate change mitigation and adaptation. MozDGM will facilitate partnerships with the private sector, especially in cases where doing so could increase the viability of community-based enterprises, their market access and institutional support for the community or CBO.

Participants of the 2019 DGM Africa Regional Exchange share about progress of the DGM in their countries. Photo: Luis Barquin

Participants of the 2019 DGM Africa Regional Exchange share about progress of the DGM in their countries. Photo: Luis Barquin

In February 2019, DGM Global organized its 10th Learning Exchange in Mozambique. For this Exchange, the objectives focused on understanding community and private sector engagement in sustainable value chains and the impact of benefit-sharing mechanisms on rural development. Participants from 8 different countries visited the Sofala region and focused their attention to site visits in two main landscapes: the Catapu private forest concession and the Gorongosa National Park.

In Mozambique, forest concessions are one of two timber harvesting regimes through which concessionaires can explore and harvest timber and related forest products commercially. Catapu is considered one of the best-managed concessions in the country, not only for its sustainable forest management practices, but also for the inclusive participation of local communities in resources management within the concession. The visit to the Catapu forest concession gave exchange participants an overview of the full value chain for forest products – such as timber and honey – a better understanding of how community-private sector partnerships within forest concessions work, and an appreciation of the effort required to foster inclusive participation of surrounding communities for the sustainable management of natural resources and reduction of poverty. The field visit helped participants understand how these companies are striving for integrated value chains, more sustainable operations and greater local community engagement in initiatives beyond timber.

Figure 3. Participants of the 2019 DGM Africa Regional Exchange visiting the Canda community in Gorongosa. Photo: WWF Mozambique

Figure 3. Participants of the 2019 DGM Africa Regional Exchange visiting the Canda community in Gorongosa. Photo: WWF Mozambique

The next field visit, to the buffer zone of Gorongosa National Park, showcased Mozambique’s most iconic protected area and the importance of coffee and cashew production in the surrounding area. Gorongosa National Park and its partners are working to reduce degradation of natural resources by introducing appropriate technologies and promoting cash crop production to increase household income. The level of organization and commitment demonstrated by the communities’ Natural Resources Management Committees was inspiring.

Continuing their journey, participants reflected on the progress of DGM in their countries and some of the common challenges communities face in the recognition of their role and contribution to natural climate solutions. Forest-dependent communities of Africa share the common issue of the way accelerating foreign investment and its influence on economic growth.  The analyses on drivers of deforestation may underestimate this increasing challenge; however, this represents an opportunity to strengthen and improve forest governance at the local level.

Since 2016, over 250 leaders representing indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) from more than 40 countries have participated in the DGM’s learning exchanges, which have evolved according to feedback from participants and guidance from the project’s Global Steering Committee (GSC). Initially, DGM exchanges were strongly focused on classroom style learning to address specific learning objectives prioritized by the GSC, as well as a focus on understanding and strengthening IPLC networks. Over time, they have evolved to accommodate participants who expressed appreciation for more collaborative exchanges and field visits to relevant forest management activities.

Today, DGM exchanges offer not only an opportunity for IPLC leaders to learn about a DGM country project, but also a space where participants contribute their own subject matter expertise and recommendations to the DGM host country. The wide spectrum of expertise and knowledge of the growing DGM network is a great asset for the analysis and strengthening of governance and implementation of DGM and other community-led initiatives alike.

As we wrap up the learning experience from this exchange, our thoughts and prayers go out to our Mozambican brothers and sisters during the difficult ongoing crisis left in the wake of Cyclone Idai. We learned a great deal during our visit to the Sofala region and cherish the warmth and kindness that we received from all those who met and hosted us. In this difficult time, we wish the best for everyone and send our love and support to our friends and partners, the communities of the Sofala Province and the people of Mozambique.