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Afungi LNG airport and construction camps, Mozambique

Afungi Airstrip and workers' camps, constructed to serve Mozambique LNG project, became the epicentre of the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the country. Gas development proceeds in the midst of violent insurgency and a worker building the airstrip was killed.


Farming and fishing communities are being displaced for offshore gas development in Cabo Delgado, the northernmost province of Mozambique. The situation is complicated by Islamist insurgency; villages have been raided and people killed. The root motivations of these attacks are complex. Sudden arrival of gas companies, in a region that has endured decades of poverty, led to young men suffering high levels of unemployment and lack of livelihoods becoming targets for enrolment by Islamist armed rebels.[1] The first flight to land at Afungi Airstrip, built to serve the Mozambique LNG project in Cabo Delgado, was reported on 20th February 2020.[2] In a 24th February 2020 Al Jazeera article Ilham Rawoot of environmental non-governmental organization Justica Ambiental reported from discussions with villagers from communities being forcibly displaced for gas development in Cabo Delgado. Their concerns and objections to the resettlement process had ‘fallen on deaf ears’. Farming and fishing livelihoods were being lost. Many affected people said compensation was inadequate and in some cases allocation of new plots of arable land triggered conflict because the land encroached on other communities’ farmland. Gas industry jobs they had been promised had not materialized.[3] Mozambique LNG project acquired 6,625 hectares of land on the Afungi Peninsula, in the form of a DUAT (Direito de Uso e Aproveitamento da Terra) - a right to use and benefit from the land. The project includes an airstrip and adjoining project camps. Mozambique LNG: Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) Summary, published in April 2019, includes a graphic indicating the locations of 556 households (2,446 people) who will be displaced by the project. Many of these people will lose access to agricultural land, fishing grounds and intertidal gathering areas. Women are anticipated to be more severely affected due to patriarchal social structures affording them lower status regarding property ownership, land rights and participation in fishing. A small number of the households to be displaced are shown to be located within the site of Afungi airstrip and project camps on the southwest border of the site. The resettlement village site, in the area of the Quitunda settlement, is on the outside of the DUAT boundary, just 300 kilometres from the northern portion of the Afungi airstrip runway.[4] A map in the DUAT Encroachment Management Plan shows sites allocated for the airstrip, camps adjoining the runway and other project camps.[5] Mozambican state oil and gas company Empresa Nacional deHidrocarbonetos (ENH) acquired the DUAT from the Ministry of Agriculture in 2012. Subsequently the DUAT was transferred to Rovuma Basin LNG Land, LDA (RBLL), a joint venture between AMA1, Eni and ENH. Project components specified in Mozambique LNG: Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Summary include airstrips and worker housing. Impacts on community health anticipated in the ESIA from Project workforce and in-migration include communicable diseases, increased demand on health infrastructure, food and nutrition-related issues, community accidents and sexually transmitted diseases. Environmental impacts of the projected influx of people to the project area detailed in the ESIA include reduction of bird habitat quality and indirect impacts on mammals.[6]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Afungi LNG airport and construction camps, Mozambique
State or province:Cabo Delgado province
Location of conflict:Afungi
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Mozambique LNG: Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Summary specifies the following Onshore Project Components: LNG facility, worker housing, construction lay-down area, airstrips, water and waste facilities and buffer zones.[6] On 24th October 2018 it was reported that Portuguese construction company Gabriel Couto had been hired by Anadarko, operator of Mozambique LNG at this juncture, to build an aerodrome in Afungi to support the project. Tiago Couto, director of the company, told Portuguese newspaper O Minho that the contract specified design and construction of a 2,300 meter runway plus a terminal and other buildings to support the runway including a passenger terminal, parking area for four aircraft and a helicopter. Couto did not disclose the value of the contract signed with Anadarko and stated that the aerodrome will support development of offshore gas exploration projects of the Area 1 and Area 4 blocks, with the latter to be operated by Italian energy company Eni.[19]

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Project area:226 hectares
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:3,000
Start of the conflict:21/02/2019
Company names or state enterprises:Total SA from France - Operator of Mozambique LNG project
Gabriel Couto from Portugal - Contracted by Anadarko to build aerodrome in Afungi to support gas exploration projects
NRV/Norvia from Portugal - Lead designer for construction of Afungi Permanent Airstrip project
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation from United States of America
LAM Mozambique Airlines (LAM) from Mozambique - LAM Q400 aircraft at the disposal of Total, the oil company leading the LNG, maintained flights between Afungi and Pemba after COVID-19 outbreak
Empresa Nacional deHidrocarbonetos ENH (ENH) from Mozambique - Stakeholder in Mozambique LNG project, acquired rights to use land on Afungi peninsula for site of onshore facilities from Ministry of Agriculture
Relevant government actors:Government of Mozambique
Ministry of Health
National Institute of Health (INS)
Palma District Administration
Ministry of Transport and Communications
Ministry of Agriculture
International and Finance InstitutionsExport-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im US) from United States of America - On 26th September 2019 Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) approved a USD5 billion loan to support US exports for development and construction of Mozambique LNG project, located on the Afungi peninsula
African Development Bank (AfDB) from Ivory Coast - Approved USD400 million loan to support Mozambique LNG project in November 2019
Sociedade para o Financiamento do Desenvolvimento (SOFID) from Portugal - Contributed €1.5 million to investments that Gabriel Couto plans to carry out in Mozambique, starting with construction of airstrip in Afungi
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:JA! Justiça Ambiental -
Friends of the Earth -
ECA Watch -
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Noise pollution
Potential: Air pollution, Oil spills, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Soil erosion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsVisible: Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other Health impacts, Accidents
Potential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence, Displacement, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:A construction worker at Afungi Airstrip was killed by armed insurgents and six peopel were injured. Shortly after commencement of operations the airstrip and camp became the epicentre of the worst COVID-19 outbreak in Mozambique. Operations were taken to contain the outbreak but works on the site were not halted. At the time of the outbreak there were about 3,000 workers on the site. Afungi Airstrip and construction camps will also enable development of the Mozambique LNG project on a 6,625 hectares area of the Peninsula, which threatens displacement of a large number of households.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[4] Mozambique LNG: Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) Summary, African Development Bank Group, April 2019
[click to view]

[click to view]

[6] Mozambique LNG: Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Summary, African Development Bank Group, April 2019
[click to view]

Mozambique LNG: Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Summary, African Development Bank Group, April 2019
[click to view]

Mozambique LNG: Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) Summary, African Development Bank Group, April 2019
[click to view]

[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Kate Symons, Land rights and justice in neoliberal Mozambique: The case of Afungi community relocations, chapter in The Right to Nature

Social Movements, Environmental Justice and Neoliberal Natures, by Elia Apostolopoulou, Jose A. Cortes-Vazquez, Routledge, 20 December 2018

[1] Camila Rolando Mazzu, EnvJustice, Mozambique Gas Development Project, villagers dispossessed for off shore drilling, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, 17 February 2019
[click to view]

[2] First flight lands at Afungi airport, as works continue, Zitamar News, 20 February 2020
[click to view]

[3] Ilham Rawoot, Gas-rich Mozambique may be headed for a disaster, Al Jazeera, 24 February 2020
[click to view]

[7] Mozambique attack highlights LNG project dangers, Petroleum Economist, 5 April 2019
[click to view]

[8] Oil major Total closes purchase of Anadarko's Mozambique LNG asset, Reuters, 30 September 2019
[click to view]

[9] Total confirms Covid-19 case on Mozambique LNG site, 2 April 2020
[click to view]

[10] Covid 19: Total quarantines Mozambique LNG project site in Afungi (Palma) – Carta, Club of Mozambique, 9 April 2020
[click to view]

[11] Total’s LNG Project Is Mozambique’s Coronavirus Epicenter, Bloomberg, 14 April 2020
[click to view]

[12] Fossil fuel giants put workers and communities in Mozambique at risk of COVID-19, Foreign Policy News, 20 April 2020
[click to view]

[13] Mozambique: Five More Cases of Coronavirus Confirmed, Allafrica, 26 April 2020
[click to view]

[14] Mozambique: Heath to decontaminate Total facilities in Afungi, where there are 47 patients and almost 1,000 suspected cases – A Verdade, Club of Mozambique, 27 April 2020
[click to view]

[15] Afungi-Pemba charter crew, mandatory quarantine and state of emergency rules – A Verdade, Club of Mozambique, 8 May 2020
[click to view]

[17] Watch: New Covid-19 focus in Palma, 2 more children infected; MISAU admits that community transmission may be “already occurring” – Mozambique | A Verdade, Club of Mozambique, 15 May 2020
[click to view]

[18] Portuguese group builds aerodrome in Mozambique for Anadarko Petroleum, Macauhub, 24 October 2018
[click to view]

[18] Sunday, 17 May 2020: New foci in Manica and Tete; 137 positive Covid-19 cases in Mozambique, – A Verdade, Club of Mozambique, 18 May 2020
[click to view]

[19] Afungi's Airstrip, NRV/Norvia, 28 May 2019
[click to view]

[20] Overhead view of Afungi airstrip and camp, Yatich K, 15 December 2019
[click to view]

[20] Afungi's Airstrip, NRV/Norvia, 28 May 2019
[click to view]

[21] Mozambique: Sofid finances investment by Portuguese construction company, Club of Mozambique, 6 December 2019
[click to view]

[22] Overhead view of Afungi airstrip and camp, Yatich K, 15 December 2019

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, [email protected]
Last update13/08/2020
Conflict ID:5036
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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