In a context of civil war compounded by drought, Médicins Sans Frontières has had a Mozambican presence since 1985. It began as an emergency intervention and continued as a long-term programme in an unstable context, the ensuing peace bringing with it new problems of movement and refugees.
By 1992 the situation was critical yet there was very little timely and accurate information. MSF realised that with personnel in 45 out of a possible 127 districts, they were well-placed to gather this information themselves. Accordingly, the Inter-MSF drought unit (CIS) project began, with remunerated local people gathering information on food and nutrition. They related this information to six topics: population movement, market condition, food stocks, nutritional outlook, food and health.
Dusauchoit hits on many important programme topics and problems in this report: how to get up-to-date information; how to get it to the right people and places; how to get people in very different NGOs to communicate and cooperate; how to move a programme along in a constantly changing context; and how to distinguish the proper end of a programme from a change of direction.
In the case of CIS, the end of the war and drought meant that population movement actually became much more important. Its concerns thus changed to monitoring food security and health at the district level in the context of population changes; at the same time, Mozambiques status changed from one of emergency to transitional.
The resulting reports were circulated to 600 organisations and individuals. CIS’s main weakness was that 60% of the country was missing. Moreover, the information needed to adapt to the changing circumstances was probably available at a more local level than CIS was able to reach. Nor was the programme part of an organisation mandated to act on its recommendations. However, the CIS experience and its success have made many think more broadly and strategically about nutritional health and food security.