Aid to MozambiqueOn July 20, 2022, the U.S. pledged to provide $116 million of aid to Mozambique for the 800,000 refugees currently displaced. This amount of money is part of the United States’ plan to send $2 billion to the Horn of Africa because of its humanitarian crises. Along with the U.S., other partners of USAID have also pledged to deliver resources to Mozambique.

Recent Conflicts in Mozambique

Since 2017, the terrorist group al-Shabaab has been destroying Mozambique’s northern province, Cabo Delgado. Cabo Delgado contains much of Mozambique’s rich natural gas supply, which is vital to its economy. Al-Shabaab has committed several violent acts toward the people who live there such as destroying schools and hospitals, kidnapping children and killing numerous people. In March 2022, 88,000 people fled the town of Palma because of a terrorist attack. This destruction has threatened the continuation of many gas fields in the province.

Along with the terrorism, cyclone Gombe wreaked havoc on the country in March 2022. This was only one of three natural disasters that struck Mozambique during its cyclonic season. The hurricane affected approximately 736,015 people or 148,253 families and displaced around 23,000 people. Additionally, Gombe destroyed an estimated 91,000 hectares (approximately 225,000 acres) of crops.

In total, because of these issues, more than 800,000 people have experienced displacement. Mozambique has not been able to recover from the damage of these two problems it has faced, especially with the current Russia-Ukraine war and the food insecurity it has caused.

Relief to Mozambique

The United States has a history of giving foreign aid to African countries. In 2019, the U.S. donated an estimated total of $7.1 billion to sub-Saharan Africa. This aid went towards addressing health and humanitarian issues. The U.S. is also Mozambique’s biggest donor as it provides more than $560 million annually.

Currently, in Africa, there are 27.1 million refugees and 53 million internally displaced people, and 800,000 of them are located in Mozambique.

In addition to the $592 million already pledged to countries in the Horn of Africa, the U.S. has committed $116 million in aid to Mozambique. This funding is part of Biden’s plan to provide a total of $2 billion to African nations and those affected by the Russian-Ukrainian war. Feed the Future, an organization that President Obama established, has labeled Mozambique as one of the eight countries the organization will target to increase its support and stop its humanitarian issues. Other partners of USAID have also pledged to send other resources to help with the food, water, sanitary, hygienic and agricultural needs.

Aid to Improve Mozambique’s Infrastructure

In addition to the $116 million aid package to Mozambique, the U.S. plans to invest $10 million to help address the country’s infrastructure and development needs. Some of this money will go toward helping smallholder farmers develop sustainable farming practices while also allowing them to access a wide variety of crops to grow.

The U.S. is hard at work ensuring that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine affected receive assistance. Its donation of $116 million to aid Mozambique is just a portion of its end goal of donating $2 billion to countries affected by this war. Millions across these countries will receive aid and relief, helping alleviate some of the damage that the Russian-Ukrainian war caused. Mozambique specifically will greatly benefit from this money, and the 800,000 displaced persons will receive resources to help their situation.

 Janae O’Connell
Photo: Wikimedia

Poverty in Nigeria and Mozambique
Elon Musk proudly shares his work with SpaceX spacecraft, Tesla’s electric cars and Neuralink’s brain-machine. However, this week he changed headlines with a way to reduce poverty in Nigeria and Mozambique. Poverty in Nigeria and Mozambique both have strong ties in rural areas with less connection to neighboring areas. Currently, 83 million people in Nigeria live in extreme poverty, with 53% in rural areas. In Mozambique, 77% of their 18 million residents living in extreme poverty live in rural areas as well.

Starlink

On May 27th, 2022, SpaceEx creator Elon Musk announced over Twitter that his satellite internet system Starlink gained approval for use in Mozambique and Nigeria. Starlink is a set of satellites in constellation form that SpaceX created to provide internet in rural areas, including schools without internet. In the series of tweets, Musk added that one Starlink unit could supply internet to hundreds of students in a single school.

While the United States turned to online learning during the pandemic, developing countries like Nigeria and Mozambique did not have the same tools to keep their children in school.

Internet in Mozambique and Africa

Poverty impacts families in a variety of ways including hunger, lack of education for children and poor health care. The Internet provides a way for children to prevent life-long poverty. Educational programs on the internet can teach children new farming or fishing techniques. They can connect with teachers in other countries and educational videos from around the world. In developing countries, 65% of people do not have access to the internet.

Schools will have access to the internet using Starlink and this could help fight poverty in Nigeria and Mozambique. Currently, only 16% of people in Mozambique use the internet. Along with giving more people access to the internet, Starlink provides a faster connection to those who have it. In Nigeria, the current download speed is 9 megabits per second (Mbps), while Starlink runs at nearly 100 Mbps.

How Starlink Can Help Poverty

Starlink first launched its satellites into space on May 23, 2019, sending 60 into low Earth orbit. Information sent through space moves 47% faster than fiber optic cables. As of January 2022, Starlink consisted of 1,900 satellites sending information around the globe.

Starlink provides high-speed internet to rural areas with previously no connection or slow speeds. Through Starlink, users can “gain access to education, health services and even communication support during natural disasters.” Those who purchase Starlink receive a satellite dish, wifi router and power supply.

Impact on Education

In Nigeria, approximately 10.5 million children do not attend school although its services are free. In some states, such as Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, many schools are not open or have experienced damage and destruction.

Mozambique continues to improve its education system with free textbooks, but “quality and improvement in learning have lagged behind.” In Mozambique, only 1% of teachers have “the minimum expected knowledge.” Providing one teacher with two-day, high-quality training costs $116.

One Starlink unit costs $599 for installation and $110 each month. This investment would offer schools the opportunity to use remote learning through video calls with teachers, online classrooms and other online materials. Over time, Starlink will help provide a higher quality of education to children in Nigeria and Mozambique.

Future of Starlink in Nigeria and Mozambique

In the United States, Elon Musk has a reputation across the internet for Tesla’s electric cars, trying to buy Twitter and giving his child an unconventional name. But in developing countries, people know him as the man that provides internet to people who never had it before or had unreliable internet in the past.

His constellation of satellites provides internet to 32 countries with more than 2,200 satellites in orbit. In the future, he hopes to launch up to 42,000 satellites so anyone around the world can use Starlink’s internet.

Starlink’s connection proved to be resilient after the invasion of Ukraine. Starlink donated receivers to schools, hospitals and local governments and it worked remarkably during the crisis. Those who faced a lack of internet received connection in a war zone and will continue to work in new areas facing extreme poverty in Nigeria and Mozambique.

– Sara Sweitzer
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Cabo Delgado crisis
Mozambique, a southern nation located in East Africa, is one of the poorest nations in the world. Cabo Delgado is its northernmost province and is rich in natural gas and rubies.  A mix of political tensions, Islamist militancy and inequality have provided fertile ground for Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado crisis

Background of the Crisis

Violence erupted in Cabo Delgado in 2015 and continues today as clashes between the militant group al-Shabab and state security forces.  Members of al-Shabab feel that the state does not provide for those in Cabo Delgado who do not belong to the elite. To date, almost 3000 people have died and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. In particular, Mozambican children are suffering heavily from physical and mental challenges.

Physical Challenges to Children: Displacement

The Cabo Delgado crisis has displaced over 336,000 children from their homes. Children flee from their homes on short notice to escape violence. They often travel long distances, sustaining injuries as a result of their journeys. Within the span of one month from June to July 2021, the number of children fleeing alone from Cabo Delgado increased by 40%.

Physical Challenges to Children: Hunger and Violence

Children impacted by the Cabo Delgado crisis also suffer from starvation. A UNICEF SMART survey analysis indicates that 33,000 children in Cabo Delgado are severely malnourished. Still, this number does not even take into account the children who have fled the region.

Some children are even subject to kidnappings and extreme violence. In the span of 13 months, ending in August 2021, over 50 children, mostly girls, were kidnapped. Additionally, there have been reports that children as young as 11 were beheaded.

Mental Challenges to Children: Trauma and Education

In addition to physical challenges, children displaced by the Cabo Delgado crisis also suffer from severe mental distress and trauma. This is often a result of children witnessing horrifying scenes including the murder of their own parents.

The Cabo Delgado crisis also challenges children’s access to education. Cabo Delgado has one of the highest rates of illiteracy in Mozambique. Thus far, the conflict has destroyed 221 schools, jeopardizing children’s access to essential learning.

Helping the Children of Mozambique

The Mozambican government has taken steps to try and improve life in provinces impacted by the Cabo Delgado crisis. In March 2020, the government created the Northern Integrated Development Agency to provide humanitarian aid and support economic growth and youth employment in Cabo Delgado and other provinces impacted by the crisis.

The international community has tried to help diffuse the Cabo Delgado crisis by strengthening the government. In April 2021, the World Bank agreed to provide $100 million to the government of Mozambique to support displaced civilians with basic infrastructure and job creation.

Save the Children

Save the Children, the international humanitarian organization, is helping.  It recently worked to reunite 63 Cabo Delgado children with their parents and caregivers. The organization provides foster homes and other forms of temporary accommodation for displaced children.  It also provides mental health and psychosocial support service. In addition, Save the Children works with the Mozambican government and other partners to combat malnutrition and provide improved health programs for children. Thus far, the organization has provided support to more than 25,000 children in times of crisis and vital nourishment to almost 15,000 children.

The Mozambique government, global financial leaders including the World Bank, and international humanitarian organizations including Save the Children are making strides to improve life in Cabo Delgado. While much work still remains, these groups are alleviating the suffering of children who are caught up in the Cabo Delgado crisis.

– Savannah Algu
Photo: Flickr

education for girls in MozambiqueMozambique is one of the most poverty-stricken countries in the world but it has made economic progress in the past three decades as its income per capita rose from $373 in 1995 to $1,136 in 2017. However, Mozambique still lags behind most other countries when it comes to the crucial topic of gender equality, specifically in education. New funding from the World Bank seeks to address these gender discrepancies and improve education for girls in Mozambique.

Girls’ Education in Mozambique

There are several measurements of educational attainment by gender in Mozambique and none present an optimistic picture. About 60% of men in Mozambique are literate, as of the latest measurement, in comparison to only about 28% of women. This is largely due to high dropout rates for girls in primary school. More than 50% of girls in Mozambique drop out by the fifth grade and this drops to 11% by the secondary level of education. Solely 1% of women in Mozambique attend college, and once they graduate, their job prospects are grim.

In 2017, less than 4% of women in Mozambique had salaried jobs and only one quarter were landowners holding official rights. Due to these facts, many women find themselves forced to marry early in order to gain any financial stability. About 48% of women in Mozambique get married by age 18, most of whom have long since dropped out of school. This lack of education comes with increased health risks as the prevalence of HIV is three times higher among young women than young men. Furthermore, researchers estimate more than half of Mozambican women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime and believe it is justified.

The World Bank’s Efforts

Acknowledging the bleak state of girls’ education in Mozambique, the World Bank approved new funding for a project addressing low learning outcomes for girls in primary school and low retention rates for girls in upper levels of education. This funding includes grants of $160 million from the International Development Agency and $139 million from the Global Partnership for Education for a total of $299 million. The project will address the first problem of low learning outcomes by building 100 new preschool facilities in rural areas that lack quality education resources. It will also train and support teachers in grade levels one to three and expand children’s access to learning materials to improve reading skills for girls in primary school.

In order to address the second problem of low retention rates, the project will seek to create safe school environments for girls, increase the number of lower secondary schools across the country and make general improvements to the infrastructure of schools in order to retain more students. Furthermore, the funding will provide sexual and reproductive health programs and gender-based violence mitigation programs in an effort to decrease early marriages, HIV infections and domestic violence. The project will also implement mentorship programs for girls and expand the scope of virtual learning facilities, which will likely continue to be incredibly important education resources even in a post-COVID-19 world.

Potential Impact

Hopes are high that this project, with increased funding from the World Bank, will have a positive effect on the education of girls in Mozambique. Many rural families with children will have access to quality preschool facilities for the first time and girls in lower levels of primary school will have more resources to help them become literate. Girls in upper primary and secondary schools will also gain access to improved resources and revamped school infrastructures. New sexual and reproductive health programs have the potential to decrease the number of young women who are HIV positive and mentorship programs will build relationships among young women and provide activities and resources for school-aged girls.

Besides the direct and immediate effects the project will have on girls’ education in Mozambique, the country as a whole stands to benefit from the results of increased learning readiness and retention rates in the years and decades to come. According to the World Bank, increasing the percentage of women with secondary levels of education in a country by 1% boosts annual per capita income growth by 0.3 percentage points. Furthermore, one additional year of education can increase a woman’s personal income by up to 25%. Girls with basic levels of education are three times less likely to contract HIV and children born to women with basic levels of education are twice as likely to survive past age 5.

The Future of Mozambique

Mozambican girls and women have suffered from poor educational attainment due to a lack of opportunities, high dropout rates in primary school and low retention rates in upper levels of education. However, the new funding from the World Bank has the potential to improve girls’ education in Mozambique from preschool through secondary school by building facilities, expanding access to resources, enhancing infrastructure, implementing sexual health programs and introducing mentorship activities for young women. Increasing educational attainment for women has a ripple effect on their incomes, their families and their countries. A government choosing to improve girls’ education makes a sound investment in the country’s future.

– Calvin Melloh
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in Mozambique
The East African country of Mozambique has struggled to control the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Since its introduction to southern Africa in the late 1980s, the adult prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Mozambique is around 12.10% – the seventh-highest rate in the world. However, there is good news. Infection rates and deaths that relate to AIDS are decreasing and the country is feeling a surge of international support. Here are three ways in which Mozambique is currently fighting against the epidemic.

Grants

In February 2021, the Government of Mozambique, the Global Fund and other medical partners launched six new grants to expand treatment and service options for HIV, TB and malaria. Actions like this are causing HIV/AIDS in Mozambique to experience a downward trend in cases and deaths.

With greater funds, HIV treatment will become more available. In fact, one can attribute greater access to treatment to the “29% decrease in the number of AIDS-related deaths” from 2006 to 2019. These particular grants are significant because they are worth $773,913,131, a figure that is 49% larger than the previous allocation amount.

The financial assistance aims to reach vulnerable populations, especially adolescent girls, and to make testing widespread. Mozambique is working towards creating strong, sustainable health systems. Health officials are hopeful that these grants will put the country on the path to self-sufficiency where external help is no longer necessary.

Medicine

There have also been recent developments in the world of pharmaceuticals. Mozambique launched a new preventative drug for tuberculosis (TB) on March 24, 2021, which is World Tuberculosis Day. Although this drug does not specifically treat people with HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, the two ailments inextricably connect. HIV greatly weakens the body’s immune system and puts people at high risk for diseases like TB.

The Mozambique Health Minister, Armindo Tiago, explicitly stated, “this programme is aimed at people living with HIV/AIDS.” The new system reduces pill intake from nine to three pills a week and the treatment duration from up to 36 months to just three months. According to Unitaid, “up to 3 million patients are expected to be made available for eligible countries this year.” These countries include Mozambique, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

This shorter, less invasive treatment intends to attract more people seeking medical therapy. If proven successful, it is likely that the number of HIV-related deaths will drop. As a result, Mozambique should gain the upper hand in the fight against communicable diseases.

Clinics

The U.S. NGO, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, is helping combat HIV/AIDS in Mozambique. This organization focuses on preventing pediatric HIV and ending pediatric AIDS all over the world. On March 15, 2021, the NGO donated two mobile clinics that will serve the cities of Maputo, Matola and the district of Marracuene.

The organization intends to provide primary care as well as sexual and reproductive health services to 3,000 young people. It chose the areas of Matola, the district of Marracuene and Maputo because of the high number of teenagers who need “more accurate information” about sexual health and sexually transmitted diseases. The mobile clinics have services for HIV/AIDS testing, tuberculosis, cancer screening, counseling and more.

Implementing these three forms of aid furthers the country’s efforts to make healthcare more accessible for those who need it most. Mozambique is a demonstration of how people across the world are still passionately fighting against HIV/AIDS.

– Lucy Gentry
Photo: Flickr

displacement in MozambiqueThe ongoing insurgency in northern Mozambique started in 2017. Four years later, the revolt has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people becoming displaced.  The UNHCR has stated that as of March, the number of displaced people in Mozambique nears 700,000 and the total may exceed one million people by June 2021. As a result of this dire situation, Mozambique’s population is more susceptible to food insecurity and malnutrition. Additionally, those suffering from displacement in Mozambique are at an increased vulnerability to this continuing violence.

Violence in Cabo Delgado

The province of Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique has the highest population of people suffering from food insecurity in the country. According to The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), 770,000 people in Cabo Delgado are suffering from crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity. The community is desperate for aid, but it has been a struggle to obtain.

The violence in Cabo Delgado has interfered with the ability of humanitarian aid to provide people with food, water and health services. However, community members have stepped up. Displaced people have been able to find support from host communities in neighboring provinces. This decreases displacement issues but exacerbates the food crisis. Taking in extra families may jeopardize the food security of the host communities. It places an increased demand on already limited supply of resources.

Humanitarian Response

The nonprofit organization Doctors Without Borders has been helping Pemba, Cabo Delgado’s capital, since 1984. The nonprofit has seen a growing mental health crisis among the displaced people that come to Pemba. In response, Doctors Without Borders has also utilized games and activities to give people a place to grieve their losses and share their stores. The nonprofit has used conversation circles as a tool to allow people to safely express their emotions, as the experiences of many internally displaced people is traumatic. Doctors Without Borders also has a focus on physical health. The organization has built latrines in Mozambique and provided internally displaced people with clean water. Additionally, the nonprofit has teamed up with Mozambique’s Department of Health to respond to COVID-19, HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis C.

Save the Children is another humanitarian aid organization working in Cabo Delgado. So far, the organization has reached over 70,000 people, 50,000 being children. In Cabo Delgado, more than 27% of children have been displaced by violence and are unable to attend school. Save the Children offers adolescence programs that provide children with nutrition and the support they need to complete their education. There are also programs for younger children to ensure they don’t suffer from malnutrition and can attend pre-school. In terms of mental health, Save the Children provides therapy to help children deal with the trauma of being displaced. The organization also works toward prevention in addition to treatment, specifically through politics. Save the Children collaborates with the local government to mitigate the effects of displacement in Mozambique. The joint effort strives to prevent illness, strengthen agriculture and prepare children to be self-sufficient through formal skill training.

Looking Forward

Mozambique is in a difficult position to combat the persisting violence within the country. It cannot fight this crisis alone. The country needs aid from outside organizations. As the violence continues, displacement in Mozambique becomes a growing issue requiring a stronger humanitarian response. However, there is hope thanks to organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Save The Children. With continued and increased humanitarian aid in conjunction with the local government’s efforts, displacement in Mozambique can be diminished and the country can strive toward an end to its persisting violence.

Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr

Access to Water and Sanitation
The U.S. investments that have been working toward improving access to water and sanitation have been particularly focussed on building a more water-secure world during the coronavirus pandemic. So far, the pandemic has affected the lives of billions all over the world and the most vulnerable in particular, already struggling with health and sanitation challenges. According to the OECD, before COVID-19, the African continent had already faced a slowdown in growth and poverty reduction. The organization added that “the current crisis could erase years of development gains.”

The pandemic could impact people already struggling with hunger and poverty. Several international organizations estimated that the number of starving people could have increased to 132 billion by the end of 2020.

To support countries struggling with water and sanitation access during the global pandemic, USAID re-configurated the priorities the Water for World Act of 2014 listed.

How does the global pandemic challenge water security and, in turn, how does USAID respond to these challenges? Before tackling these two questions, this article will give a brief background on the Water for World Act of 2014 and discuss its reconfiguration in light of the recent events regarding sanitation.

The 2014 Water for World Act and WASH Programs

The Water for World Act of 2014 is a reform bill that emerged from the 2005 Water for the Poor Act which made water, sanitation and hygiene – conveniently called WASH – top priorities in the federal foreign aid plan. In an attempt to make data more transparent, optimize aid strategies and improve water support, Congress voted for the Water for World Act in 2014. However, in 2020, the pandemic accelerated the need for global access to water and sanitation.

To address this concern, USAID re-designated 18 high-priority countries according to criteria such as lack of access to water, inadequate sanitation conditions and opportunities to make progress in these areas. Some of the high-priority countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, India, Kenya and South Sudan. In doing so, USAID intended to leverage WASH programs and enable vulnerable populations to have continual access to clean water during this critical period.

Current Challenges to Water Security

Access to water and sanitation is a basic human right and the current pandemic underscored the emergency to settle this right in the most vulnerable countries. Populations receive daily reminders to wash their hands and keep a healthy diet to prevent the propagation of the virus and save lives. However, the lack of clean, drinkable water is not only amplifying the already precarious living conditions of vulnerable populations, but it is also making it harder for these countries to stop virus transmission.

COVID-19 tends to affect vulnerable populations the most: poor communities, minorities and people living in crowded areas. According to UN-Habitat, it is clear that the pandemic affects the world’s most vulnerable populations the hardest because they lack sustainable access to water and sanitation.

For instance, India is the second-leading country in the world for most cases of COVID-19. It had almost 11 million cases on February 21, 2021. This number directly links to the country’s crowded rural areas and the lack of access to running water. At the end of 2020, more than 21% of the Indian population showed evidence of exposure to the virus. Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees living in a refugee camp are crowded with a population density four to seven times more than New York City, putting them in high-risk situations.

How WASH Programs Help

WASH programs helped high-priority countries respond to the pandemic in 2020. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, USAID and the World Bank financed WASH campaigns to improve the population’s handwashing behaviors.

Meanwhile, in Ethiopia, they collaborated with the local authorities to improve access to water and sanitation in health care facilities. In Haiti, WASH services included purchasing chlorine to clean water and installing water supply in markets, health centers, orphanages and prisons. According to the World Bank report, ensuring that these countries have safe access to water and sanitation is a necessary medium-term response to the pandemic.

US Investments and Improving Access to Water and Sanitation

U.S. investments aim to provide financial support for water service providers. For instance, in June 2020, USAID partnered with UNICEF in Mozambique to provide subsidies covering the cost of private water providers.

USAID also financed programs that relay information about handwashing. In April 2020, U.S. investments financed radio campaigns in Burkina Faso promoting a new handwashing system expanding access to hygiene in more areas. Data has shown that these programs made a difference in terms of transmission. In fact, transmission levels went down in both Mozambique and Burkina Faso from June to December 2020.

USAID also focused on health care facilities and on supporting health care workers in priority countries by training and protecting them. WASH programs trained more than 16,000 workers in diverse locations such as Senegal, India, Bangladesh, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. USAID support in Senegal was one of many successes: 447 officers and 549 health workers received training while the programs also resulted in the installation of 497 public handwashing stands in health facilities and high-risk places. They also distributed 2,423 handwashing kits to families with COVID-19.

Looking Ahead

Despite the crises of the past year, one can spot at least one positive outcome: global leaders have had to rethink access to water and sanitation. The pandemic increased global awareness about the importance of water and sanitation security, all over the world. U.S. investments to improve water and sanitation accessibility under the Water for World Act provide help during sanitary and water emergencies, even during these challenging times. The recent update about the high-priority status for designated countries is not the only positive news on the horizon. USAID administrator John Barsa has also signed the Sanitation and Water for all World Leaders call to action. His signature confirms what many have come to realize over the past year; international collaboration is key to fight the pandemic and secure better living conditions for all.

– Soizic Lecocq
Photo: Flickr

Eliminating Poverty in MozambiqueLocated on the southeastern coast of Africa, Mozambique is home to approximately 29.5 million Mozambicans. With a 52% female and 48% male population growing at a rate of 2.5%, high child mortality rates, increased 12.6% HIV prevalence, low life expectancy and low literacy rates, Mozambique is struggling with most of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Mozambique ranks 136 of the 162 countries measured by the Sustainable Development Index. The first SDG is eliminating poverty in Mozambique.

Poverty in Mozambique

According to Mozambique’s Household Budget Survey, 46.1% of the population lives below the poverty line. There exists multidimensional poverty measured by the quality of family, nutrition, education, work, health, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), resulting in 46% of children 17 years and below living in poverty.

The country’s location makes it vulnerable to many natural disasters that often stunt its economic growth, making it difficult to eliminate poverty in Mozambique. Mozambique faces a combination of tropical and dry climates, an abundance of natural resources ranging from renewable energy sources to agro-ecological regions, forests and wildlife. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate fell from 7.4% to 3.7% between 2007 and 2017 as a result of drought, flood and cyclone natural disasters.

Barriers to Eliminating Poverty in Mozambique

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has brought an additional burden to Mozambique, coming just as the country was recovering from major economic shocks related to its recent debt crisis and the devastating 2019 cyclones. Since the onset of the pandemic, Mozambique has already experienced a 4% decline in its economic growth expectations with significant adverse effects on its already struggling economy. Mozambique is expected to feel the lasting effects of this shift in the coming years, facing even larger external and fiscal financing gaps than previously anticipated. Further, there is concern that large numbers of Mozambicans are on the verge of re-entering poverty, erasing much past progress and setting the country back on the SDG to eliminate poverty.

One of the main barriers to eliminating poverty in Mozambique is its long-standing exclusion regarding gender and other vulnerable groups and regional public policy imbalances. In order to have sustainable poverty reduction, Mozambique must give special attention to eliminating these key issues.

Current Efforts and Solutions

The Nation Basic Social Security Strategy (ENSSB) was developed to help achieve the government’s five-year plan (2015-2019) to implement actions aimed at reducing poverty and vulnerability. Between 2016 and 2024, it seeks to ensure impending economic growth is of benefit to all its citizens, particularly the most vulnerable. A strategy based on the Agenda 2063 of the African Union and the U.N.’s SDGs, the ENSSB was designed to build an efficient and effective social security system in Mozambique. It directly aims to sustainably support and strengthen Mozambique’s most impoverished population’s capacity to defend themselves against social risks such as violence, abuse, exploitation, discrimination, and social exclusions due to their elevated vulnerability.

The World Bank Group (WBG) currently supports a wide and diverse lending portfolio for the benefit of eliminating poverty in Mozambique. Focusing on Mozambique’s most vulnerable and underserved populations, the WBG has lent its resources to 27 operations with contributions of $3 billion funded by the International Development Association (IDA). The International Finance Corporation additionally has existing investments of up to $176 million, with $15 million in advisory services alone as of June 2020. The WBG’s portfolio consists of two Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency exposures of up to $89.1 million as well.

Such large and varied contributions and investments have the following primary goals: diversification for economic growth and development, human capital development, and increased sustainable development, prosperity and resilience.

COVID-19 Relief Support in Mozambique

As a result of the onset of the pandemic, Mozambique is struggling with a growing fiscal gap and economic fallout. In order to prevent deepening long-term economic effects, the WBG approved a $100 million grant from the IDA on October 22, 2020. This funding aims to mitigate the pandemic’s adverse impact by providing emergency government financing, supporting affected businesses and households and improving fiscal sustainability reform.

This effort of the WBG will serve as part of its existing plans to aid Mozambique in post-crisis recovery in the form of improving health services, access to water and sanitation, extending social protection and labor, improving business, job creation and retention and economic management. These goals will help push Mozambique forward, improve Mozambicans’ quality of life and lift people out of poverty. These investments will be implemented through a two-pronged approach. First, the health sector will be addressed, along with social security, safety and water access for all Mozambicans, with a particular focus on the urban poor and vulnerable populations. Secondly, supporting small and medium enterprises’ (SME) access to financing and liquidity will help catalyze economic growth in the financial sector and industry reform and strengthen Mozambique’s fiscal and debt framework.

Though Mozambique has faced many setbacks in its economic development in recent years, the above strategies will hopefully set the country on its way to achieving the very first Sustainable Development Goal of eliminating poverty in Mozambique.

– Rebecca Harris
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Mozambique
The exploitation of human beings for labor and sex reduces individuals to property and demands that governments address these trafficking monopolies through policy and prosecution. Typically, the nation of Mozambique struggles to castigate the human trafficking rings within its borders; however, both international groups, as well as the national government itself, recognized significant improvement within 2020. According to the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report, the government in Mozambique significantly expanded the effort to combat human trafficking through national awareness and new education standards.

The Situation

Human trafficking involves the movement of victims across borders and forced labor–particularly child labor. Without parental support to protect them, orphaned children frequently live in constant fear of exploitation. According to UNICEF, the orphan population in Mozambique numbers roughly 2 million children, and another 700,000 children live fearing abandonment due to a variety of causes. Even in light of its substantial progress, Mozambican society consists of historically rooted gender roles. Thus, orphaned girls live with the highest levels of instability, vulnerable to forced marriages or transactional sex at young ages. Most of the young victims of human trafficking in Mozambique work in agriculture, mining or forced domestic work. Traffickers lure children from rural areas with promises of education and employment enticing families to send children away with hope in the opportunities available in urban life.

The U.S. Department of State recognizes Mozambique as a “source, transit, and destination” for trafficked victims with the city of Maputo linked to rings reaching South Africa. In addition to the orphaned population, individuals with albinism identify as the most threatened population.

Unfortunately, weak infrastructure overshadows any successes the country made within 2020. While an action plan against human trafficking in Mozambique has emerged, the implementation of this policy generally fails to meet international standards and decrease the number of victims trafficked. However, 2020 witnessed an improvement in the prosecution of trafficking crimes and increased training for designated front-line workers to recognize and work on such cases. National awareness campaigns continue to bring this issue to light, exposing the presence of trafficking rings and highlighting the government’s goals to implement better policy.

Improving Education Standards

One government strategy involves developing new education standards, which requires a transformation of national infrastructure and policy. From 2014-2015, around 46.1% of the population lived in extreme poverty, an improvement from 2003 with 58.6% impoverished. Yet after two major tropical cyclones in 2019, UNFP reported that the economic situation had worsened considerably. Furthermore, the lack of economic security often results in the utilization of child labor to increase profits. While the solution to this issue is multifaceted, the nation is developing new ways to address it.

As the World Bank noted, Mozambique has begun a results-based approach to finance improvements with the intention of enhancing education and health through workforce development and the extension of education. Ideally, this will incentivize cities to implement these new educational strategies to send their children to school and equip them for the future. By providing Mozambican children with education and encouraging them to recognize that they are capable of more, they will have the ability to evade the common lures of human traffickers. When children attend school, they are less likely to feel forced into accepting any form of employment for survival and thus become less vulnerable targets for human trafficking rings.

Child Labor

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor stated that 22.5% of Mozambique’s population between the ages of 5 to 14 are working, while only 69.5% of children within this age group attend school. Of this 69.5%, only 52% complete their education. While the government has enacted policies such as the Prohibition of Child Trafficking in the most recent Penal Code that Mozambique enacted in June 2020 to push back against the predatory nature of human trafficking, the country has consistently struggled to adapt the infrastructure necessary to enforce these policies. The lack of manpower in the justice system limits its effectiveness and leaves a gap in Mozambique’s ability to prevent further trafficking.

Since child labor policies repeatedly fail to meet international standards, Mozambique has raised the legal working age to 15 years old to encourage children under this age to attend school. However, this gesture has proven ineffectual, as the lack of significant literacy improvement has shown — likely a result of an insufficient number of labor inspectors in ratio to the number of people in the workforce. As of October 2020, the Global Education Monitoring Report launched a program implementing new national and international education goals in Mozambique. These goals emphasize accountability measures to improve the availability and quality of education. “Inclusion and education: all without expectation” is a common theme throughout this report, signaling a desire to not only change the educational institutions but the social expectations.

Improving Female Education

Expanding education for women is one promising method of inclusion that has the potential to increase literacy. The disparity between the opportunities that men and women receive often leaves women vulnerable and void of choices regarding the direction of their lives. As many in Mozambique still consider child marriage a socially accepted practice, Girls often marry between the ages of 15 and 18, and after marriage, education is no longer an option. To encourage more consistent female enrollment in schools, the government must address child marriages and protect the rights of women to pursue academic careers. According to UNESCO, educating women builds lasting change because they can invest the money they earn into their children and prepare them for a more prosperous future.

The government in Mozambique must continue working to provide more effective means of identifying and protecting victims of human trafficking. However, the improvements already beginning in education signal the achievability of change and expanded hope for a bright future within Mozambique.

– Katherine Lucht
Photo: Unsplash

Healthcare in MozambiqueThe state of healthcare in Mozambique has drastically changed in the last few decades. While Mozambique was once a country with little access to healthcare services, the country has decreased mortality rates since the launch of its Health Sector Recovery Program after the Mozambican civil war, with assistance from the World Bank.

History of Mozambique

The Mozambican civil war that took place from 1977-1992 had lasting effects on the country’s healthcare system and economy, resulting in limited funding for health services and insufficient access to care providers.

The Health Sector Recovery Program was launched in 1996 in order to refocus on funding healthcare in Mozambique, which desperately needed expanded resources to address the growing health crises. New health facilities were constructed throughout the country increasing accessibility to healthcare. The number of health facilities in Mozambique from the start of the civil war to 2012 quadrupled from 362 to 1,432 and the number of healthcare workers increased along with it.

Improvements to Healthcare and Accessibility

About 30 years ago, Mozambique had one of the highest mortality rates for children under 5 but was able to significantly reduce this number after the success of the Health Sector Policy Program. In 1990, this rate was 243.1 mortalities per 1,000 children. The rate has been reduced to 74.2 mortalities as of 2019. Maternal health was also targeted by the program, with increased health facility births from 2003 to 2011.

Conflict in Cabo Delgado

Despite these improvements to healthcare in Mozambique, Cabo Delgado, a northeastern province, is facing one of the worst healthcare crises in the country since violence struck the area in October 2017. Conflict between non-state armed forces clashing with security forces and other armed groups has caused more than 200,000 people in the area to become internally displaced. Coupled with the aftermath of Hurricane Kenneth, one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Africa, the area is facing severe food shortages and lack of shelter for people.

Cabo Delgado has also seen a rise in COVID-19 cases and other diseases such as cholera, diarrhea and measles, resulting from inadequate clean water and sanitation.

Intervention by UNICEF

On December 22, 2020, UNICEF shared a press release on the increased need for healthcare in Cabo Delgado. As the rainy season begins, there is an increased risk for deadly disease outbreaks. It appealed for $52.8 million in humanitarian assistance for 2021 projects aimed at aiding Mozambique.

UNICEF is expanding its water and sanitation response in order to prevent the outbreak of water-borne diseases like cholera and the further spread of COVID-19.

UNICEF also aims to give crucial vaccines to children in Mozambique, increasing its numbers from 2020. The 2021 targets include vaccinating more than 67,000 children against polio and more than 400,000 measles vaccinations. Children will also be treated for nutritional deficiencies from food insecurity and UNICEF plans to screen more than 380,000 children under 5 for malnourishment and enroll them in nutritional treatment programs.

Mental health support services will be provided to more than 37,000 children and caregivers in need, especially those experiencing displacement from armed conflict and those affected by COVID-19.

The Future of Healthcare in Mozambique

While healthcare in Mozambique has significantly improved in the last few decades, a lack of health services still affects the country’s most vulnerable populations. Aid from international organizations like UNICEF aims to tackle these issues to improve healthcare in Mozambique.

– June Noyes
Photo: Flickr