Foreign Aid in MozambiqueThe provision of foreign aid from the United States serves as a multifaceted solution and preventative measure to many issues that ultimately impact the United States. In assisting with the development of under-resourced countries and those afflicted by natural disasters and conflict, the country’s interest in strengthening U.S. eminence in the global political ecosystem is served, as is the initiative to foster and stabilize democracies that are essential in maintaining global peace. Mozambique is one such country that receives aid from the United States. Nearly half of the population lives in poverty and while having managed to combat that statistic with an annual decrease of 1%, the country continues to see rising levels of inequality. USAID’s 2019 assistance investment in Mozambique totaled $288 million. Foreign aid in Mozambique is being used in several key developmental areas.

Developing Education

A significant portion of U.S. foreign aid has been invested in providing basic education. This foreign aid in Mozambique has been applied in conjunction with the country’s national budgetary allocation of 15% for basic education. This initiative has led to improved access to education with the abolishment of enrollment fees, an investment in free textbooks, direct funding to schools and the construction of classrooms. With access to education improving, Mozambique now moves to focus on developing the quality of education it provides and extending the initiative of improving access to those who are in the early learning stage. Only 5% of children between the ages of 3 and 5 have access to such services. Moving forward, educational initiatives aim to focus on the improvement of teacher training, the retention of students (as only 8% continue onto secondary level) and optimizing the management and monitoring of education nationally.

Addressing Humanitarian Needs

A large part of foreign aid in Mozambique has been committed to battling humanitarian crises. Cabo Delgado is the northernmost province of the country and is experiencing an insurgency that is decimating its infrastructure and food security. As a result, there is an ongoing displacement of the population. In November 2020 alone, more than 14,300 displaced people arrived in the provincial capital Pemba. The World Food Programme estimates the cost of feeding internally displaced people in northern Mozambique to be at approximately $4.7 million per month, aside from the housing costs and the complexity of managing the crisis amid a global pandemic. This allocation of the country’s foreign aid will be vital in maintaining the wellbeing of people during the conflict and restoring the country’s infrastructure once the insurgency has subdued.

Improving the Health Sector

The bulk of foreign aid in Mozambique goes toward the many challenges the country faces with regard to health issues such as funding family planning, battling tuberculosis, maternal and child health as well as water and sanitation. More than $120 million goes toward this initiative but the most pressing of the issues is mitigating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In 2014, Mozambique ranked eighth globally for HIV cases. With the support, antiretroviral therapy and testing has expanded, which is evidenced by more than a 40% drop in new cases since 2004. Additionally, with a sharp increase in the treatment of pregnant women who carry the virus, one study recorded a 73% drop in cases among newborns between 2011 and 2014. The executive director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe, has claimed that the epidemic could be completely eradicated by 2030 if such a rate of progress continues.

The developmental progress in Mozambique is reflective of the substantial impact that foreign aid has on developing countries. As U.S. foreign aid to developing countries continues, the hope is for other well-positioned countries to follow suit.

– Christian Montemayor
Photo: Flickr

Sweden's Foreign AidMany countries allocate a portion of their gross national income (GNI) to foreign aid. However, few countries rival Sweden’s foreign aid. Sweden has a reputation as a generous country in the international community; it gives generous donations to struggling countries for a variety of reasons. The three nations that Sweden provides the most aid to are Tanzania, Afghanistan and Mozambique. Additionally, Sweden distributes its aid to many areas within these three countries. This article highlights Sweden’s efforts to help these impoverished countries.

Tanzania

Tanzania and Sweden have been partners for over half a century. The relationship between the two nations started back in 1963. Since then, Sweden has achieved multiple substantial successes in Tanzania. For example, Sweden has helped deliver electricity to about 20% of the newly powered areas since 2006. Sweden also provided financial assistance to one million small businesses. In this case, over 50% of those beneficiaries were women or young people. Additionally, in 2013, Sweden provided Tanzania with $123 million in official development assistance (ODA). It also provided $103 million in 2015.

According to the website Sweden Abroad, Sweden’s foreign aid in Tanzania is intended to help the country achieve sustainable growth and to give impoverished people opportunities to care for themselves, either by providing them with employment or by starting small businesses. Looking to the future, Sweden will decrease their aid as poverty decreases in Tanzania.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan has also received a tremendous amount of support from Sweden’s foreign aid. One of the core focuses of Swedish aid in Afghanistan is in promoting gender equality for women. Unfortunately, literacy among women in Afghanistan is around 18%. Sweden has worked hard to reduce that statistic. Thankfully, Sweden has increased the number of women attending school. In 2001, one million women attended school in Afghanistan. By 2016, there were 8.2 million children in school, 40% of whom were girls. Sweden has increased the number of girls in school, in part, through the implementation of schools run by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan. Currently, these schools teach about 70,000 Afghan children. Of that number, 62% are girls.

Sweden has also made strides in protecting women from violence. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, U.N. Women and Women for Afghanistan Women have teamed up to ensure the protection of Afghan women. These agencies have established refuges within 20 provinces of Afghanistan. These refuges offer services including legal assistance and guidance following gender-based violence.

Mozambique

Similar to Tanzania, Mozambique has received Sweden’s foreign aid for many years; Swedish aid to Tanzania started during the 1970s. Sweden has aided Mozambique in many ways, including by preventing child marriages, promoting gender equality and renovating hydroelectric plants. The Pungwe Programme is one specific example of Sweden’s aid in Mozambique. This program takes care of the Pungwe River. Over one million people use the Pungwe River, including Mozambicans in addition to some Zimbabweans.

Hopefully, other countries will follow Sweden’s example and increase their investments in the global community. Sweden’s work in Tanzania, Afghanistan and Mozambique is commendable; however, it will take more aid to bring developing countries into the modern era.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

How the DFC is Investing in a Sustainable Future for MozambiqueThe USA’s Development Finance Corporation (DFC) just spent $3.6 billion in investments worldwide, with roughly half this amount going toward a sustainable future for Mozambique.

The project consists of an offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) project created by the U.S. Anadarko Petroleum and owned by the French oil company Total SE, which will help grow the country’s economy by making it one of the biggest LNG exporters in the world. Its strategic location makes business with markets like Asia, Europe and South Africa very viable. The goal is to bolster Mozambique’s annual GDP to as high as $15 billion a year, stabilizing the country’s economy and encouraging everlasting growth.

Poverty in Mozambique

Mozambique is currently one of the poorest countries in the world, largely in part by corrupt government officials. It ranked 146 out of 180 in a 2019 transparency perception index, and in a study conducted by a Norwegian research institute, the country suffered a $4.9 billion annual increase in corruption from just 2004 to 2014 alone.

In recent times, it has been observed that poverty is decreasing in urban zones. The national poverty index as of today is around 41-46% of the population. This is good news compared to the country’s 80% poverty rate in 1990—making it at the time one of the countries most entrenched in poverty. However, the country still suffers from inequality between urban and rural zones. Poverty reduction in the south is 18%; contrastively, the north saw an 11% increase in poverty rates. However, there is hope that the United States’s renewable natural gas investments can offset this stark disparity, pushing for a prosperous and sustainable future for Mozambique.

Obstacles to a Sustainable Future in Mozambique

With new sustainable projects in action, comes the rise of Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamo (ASWJ), an Islamic insurgent militant group known for their terroristic attacks in small villages. Since the start of the LNG project, the group has been advancing by facilitating attacks in large city centers, even killing eight LNG project employees at a construction site near the Tanzania border.

Currently, the ASWJ does not have the arms capability of reaching the significant sites that are heavily guarded, but they still have the potential to pose a looming threat to other smaller project sites that do not have as much security. As the group advances, Total SE must take proactive measures to counteract attacks, given the unprecedented violence that has taken place as ASWJ asserts its presence amid the new oil plant.

The DFC is also giving Mozambique a $200 million loan to build power infrastructure. This will help the country become self-sufficient by using domestic gas to increase power generation, as well as providing affordable and sustainable electricity, furthering the country’s goal for a central electricity system. The country currently has one of the lowest electrification rates in the world, so this will be a massive step forward in bringing essential, environmentally-sound infrastructure, paving the way for a sustainable future for Mozambique.

The United States sees a potential future for Mozambique, and it is showing its optimism by allocating a hefty amount of its global investments into this single country alone. With this funding, the country can build up essential infrastructure like central electricity, as well as exponentially increase its national GDP with the help of the renewable LNG plant, all of which will reshape the lives of many citizens who have only known poverty for so long.

– Mina Kim
Photo: Flickr

Energy Projects in MozambiqueOn September 9, 2020, the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) approved two energy projects in Mozambique. The recent decision resulted in a loan of $200 million to Centra Térmica de Temane for a power plant and $1.5 billion in risk assurance to support the commercialization of Mozambique’s natural gas reserves. The purpose of these projects is to create access to energy and an opportunity for economic growth fueled by Mozambique’s natural gas reserves. The DFC energy projects in Mozambique constitute a substantial investment by the U.S. that will make good on the Prosper Africa pledge which aims to increase U.S. investment in Africa.

Keeping its Promise to Africa

The Prosper Africa initiative serves to create business opportunities in Africa and increase two-way trade and investment with the intent to benefit companies, investors and workers in the U.S. and Africa. Dennis Hearne, U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique, spoke highly of the two projects stating, “These projects will have a significant development impact in Mozambique, improve lives and create a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the country to build a more prosperous future for all Mozambicans.”

Jumpstarting Economic Growth

Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita of less than $500. It is the job of the DFC to prioritize projects in areas that are low income. DFC investment for energy projects in Mozambique could create a lot of private capital in the country and jumpstart economic growth.

The DFC will provide up to $1.5 billion in political risk insurance to advance the development, construction and operation of an onshore liquefaction plant that will commercialize Mozambique’s natural gas reserves in the Rovuma Basin. This project could turn the country into a major energy exporter and increase the GDP by an average of $15 billion per year, creating long-term economic growth. The development will envelop the entire country, boosting sectors aside from oil and gas.

Diversifying Power Resources

Those in Mozambique who are lucky enough to have electricity rely almost entirely on one colonial-era dam called Cahora Bassa. The dam provides more than 2,000 megawatts out of the approximate 2,800 megawatts installed capacity. Due to extreme weather conditions, the Zambezi River, which powers the dam, flows irregularly, “putting the country’s entire power system at great risk.” The DFC’s proposed power plant will be powered by Mozambique’s natural gas reserves, providing a different source of electricity that is also reliable.

Creating a Power Infrastructure

Only 29% of Mozambicans have electricity in their homes, making it an energy-poor country. Companies with a grid connection still rely on diesel 17% of the time and biomass (wood and charcoal) accounts for 60% of the country’s primary energy use.

In order to develop, construct and operate a 420-megawatt power plant with a 25-kilometer interconnection line and 560-kilometer transmission line, the DFC will loan Central Térmica de Temane up to $200 million. Not only will the power plant diversify the country’s power resources but will also reduce the cost of electricity. Furthermore, it will allow Mozambique to use its own natural gas supply to increase power generation and support the government’s plans to develop the national electricity system.

Balancing Exports and Domestic Use of Natural Gas

Mozambique’s natural gas reserves are abundant and will provide the country with an incredible income. However, Mozambique is uninterested in exporting all of its natural gas to Europe and Asia. The DFC will help Mozambique attain the generation infrastructure that will allow the country to use natural gas to power its homes and businesses and it will support large-scale liquified natural gas export facilities in order to bring revenue into Mozambique.

The completion of the DFC energy projects in Mozambique will take Mozambique from one of the poorest countries with regard to revenue and energy to a major energy exporter with long-term economic growth. These projects will help the economy grow, provide the country with a diverse power infrastructure and balance its natural gas usage. These investments will also fulfill the Prosper Africa pledge in which the U.S. vowed to increase investment in Africa. Overall, U.S.-Africa relations will benefit, and more importantly, a prosperous future will lie ahead for the people of Mozambique.

– Mary Qualls
Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in Mozambique
According to the 2019 United Nations Development Programme’s report, Mozambique ranks 180th out of 189 countries with a high Gender Inequality Index (GII) of 0.569. The Gender Inequality Index is a parameter that evaluates gender-based inequalities in three aspects including reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity. Over the years, the untiring efforts of the UN Committee on The Elimination of Discrimination Against Women have sparked a wave of non-governmental organizations that fight for women’s rights in Mozambique. These efforts have resulted in a noticeable change, although the country still has a long way to go.

Mozambique’s Success at Women’s Empowerment

Historically, Mozambique has been a male-dominated country with men holding the majority of official positions. Traditionally, women were absent from the country’s public affairs. However, Mozambican women were not completely powerless. Older women, for instance, gained respect as mothers-in-law and community advisers on marital issues. Nevertheless, the small portion of power that women held did not entirely cocoon them from inferior treatment by their male counterparts as women had no right to ownership of land and therefore comprised 80% of the country’s poor.

The lack of equal rights between men and women also forced women to seek protection from men. Consequently, practices such as polygamy received encouragement, and women accepted it without protest since it promised them their husbands’ protection.

What Sparked A Change?

The last two decades have been a period of progressive growth and transformation for Mozambique. The 1977 Civil War, which exposed women to physical violence and other forms of sexual violence such as gang rapes and abduction, led to the country’s increased focus on women’s rights in Mozambique. Despite the war’s atrocious effects on women, however, it created conditions that favored the rise and empowerment of women. As a matter of fact, during the war and the ensuing years, Mozambican women became the primary breadwinners of their families since a majority of men died, became disabled or entered the frontlines to fight to restore order to their troubled nation.

After the war in 1992, Mozambique’s government went the extra mile to promote women’s rights. Over the years, it has accomplished much in the areas of women’s parliamentary inclusion, land ownership and education among others. Here is a list of women’s organizations that the Mozambican government created to advocate for women’s rights.

  • The Ministry of Women and Social Action: The Ministry for Women and Social Action emerged in 2000. Among its major achievements is the development of Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM), which provides a course related to gender planning and budgeting every year. This course has consequently raised awareness and increased the number of trained decision-makers both at the provincial and district level on the topic of gender equality.
  • The Directorate-General for Women’s Affairs: This institute is responsible for the implementation of decisions and policies from the Ministry.
  • The National Council for Promoting Women: The National Council for Promoting Women pools official organizations, NGOs and their representatives, private sector participants and religious officials in a joint effort to promote women’s rights in Mozambique.

Female Parliamentarians

Over the years, the percentage of women in the Mozambican parliament has undergone a remarkable change from 25.2% in 1997 to 41.2% in 2019. The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), which opened in Mozambique in 2004, played a cornerstone role in the achievement of this milestone through a campaign it dispatched in 2009 to encourage Mozambique’s major political parties, FRELIMO and RENAMO, to nominate a higher number of women candidates.

Land Ownership Rights

In modern-day Mozambique, the reformed Land Law, which emerged in 1997, endorses that all Mozambicans of either gender have the right to land use. As a result of this Law, 25% of women have land title use rights. This is yet another milestone and a big win for women.

Although the Land Law has led to a significant rise in the number of female landowners, women’s rights to land still experience restriction in rural Mozambique. This is evidenced by the restricted territorial control of most women in the country’s north, as they only control 30% of land plots.

Education

A major transformation has also taken place in regard to girls’ education. The government has enhanced school access to all, which resulted in a consequential increase in the girls’ enrolment rate from 3 million in 2002 to 4.1 million in 2006. Moreover, the number of girls in school has been going up since.

Today, 94% of Mozambican girls enroll in primary schools, however, only 11% of them progress to a secondary level. Additionally, only 1% attends college. This engenders low literacy rates among Mozambican women whereby their illiteracy rate is almost double what is if for men.

Taking Action

The Government of Mozambique has recently approved the 2020 Annual Work Plan of the Spotlight Initiative to end violence against women. The Spotlight Initiative is a partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030.

Through joint efforts with the Mozambican Government, The Spotlight Initiative plans to provide online training to service providers and promote existing hotlines to ease the process of reporting cases of domestic violence, which have surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister of Gender, Child and Social Action, Nyeleti Mondlane, remarked that the Mozambican government has to strengthen women’s economic social empowerment efforts to contribute to an equal, fair and peaceful society.

Over the years, Mozambique has made outstanding achievements in promoting women’s rights, involving the implementation of women’s organizations and female parliamentarians and increased school attendance for girls. Although the present state of affairs is not one to complacently settle for,  past successes give a splinter of hope for a better future for Mozambican women.

– Divine Mbabazi
Photo: Flickr

VillageReach is Improving Healthcare
The history behind VillageReach is very similar to The Borgen Project’s history. Blaise Judja-Sato, a native Cameroonian, founded VillageReach in 2000 after returning to Africa to aid in the relief efforts of a devastating flood in Mozambique. While he was in Mozambique, Judja-Sato saw a problem with the healthcare system. Since many citizens live in rural areas, the government could not provide them with the medical supplies they needed, which led to their frustration. Thus, she coined the phrase “starting at the last mile” and established VillageReach. Here is some information about how VillageReach is improving healthcare in low and middle-income countries.

Healthcare That Reaches Everyone

VillageReach’s mission is simple. It aims to reach “the last mile” in LMICs (low and middle-income countries) where people do not always have access to healthcare or any at all. Even with VillageReach, 1 billion people do not have access to healthcare. However, VR is working to improve the already existing health systems in different areas. It focuses on four pillars including healthcare accessibility, information availability, human resource constraints and lack of infrastructure. VillageReach is improving healthcare in these countries so that the people in and out of rural areas thrive.

Big Partners

Additionally, VR has over 30 partners that keep its organization running strong. From the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to UNICEF, VR has quite an array of influential partners. The President of the organization is Emily Bancroft. She stated that VR “could not have made an impact the last 20 years without the collaborative power of partnership.” The team is spread out over 13 countries. It has headquarters in Seattle, Washington and offices in Mozambique, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Drones

Furthermore, in 2019, VR collaborated with the Ministry of Health, Swoop Aero and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to launch the Drone Project in the Équateur Province of the DRC. The partners decided to pick this place in the DRC because of its many geographical challenges. More than half of the health systems in place are only accessible by river. The goal of the Drone Project is to increase vaccine availability in areas that are hard to reach. The drones, provided by Swoop Aero, can take off with the push of a button and land without guidance. It can also carry around six pounds. After the Drone Project’s first flights were successful, the partners are already thinking bigger, brainstorming on how to send other medical supplies and equipment.

COVID-19 Response

Also, VR is a supporter of the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa. The initiative works to supply PPEs (personal protective equipment) to community health workers in Africa. PPEs are practically inaccessible in most African countries and the consequences are horrible. Health workers stay home or work without PPEs. With health workers not working, there is no way that Africa will be able to stop the spread of COVID-19. VR plays a crucial part in the initiative’s seven-approach plan, which focuses on the last mile and working with similar in-country organizations to accomplish its goals.

Recognition

As a 20-year-old organization, VR received recognition numerous times for its fantastic work in Sub-Saharan Africa. Recently, the Washington Global Health Alliance honored VR with the Pioneers Outstanding Organization Award. The WGHA awards winners that work hard to improve health equity all over the world. The judges select winners, and in 2020, WGHA board member Erin McCarthy led it. VR received an award for its innovative approach, collaborations with local governments in the places it works and its international emphasis on equity.

Overall, from COVID-19 response to innovating delivering vaccines by drones, VillageReach has covered it all in its 20 years of service to the world. VR is improving healthcare, one small rural village at a time.

– Bailey Sparks
Photo: Flickr

literacy rate in mozambiqueBefore 1975, the education system in Mozambique was selective and disproportionally catered to the Portuguese populations. Churches owned private schools to serve the upper-class Portuguese. The only schools available for Mozambique natives were missionary schools. This system discriminated against Mozambique natives and led to some disastrous results. In particular, many Mozambique natives attended a school that taught inefficiently because the missionary schools had low budgets. Some teachers did not show up, and schools did not provide enough textbooks; if they did, they were outdated. This combination created antiquated learning curriculums with no standardization or structure. When Mozambique declared its independence from Portugal, the National System of Education (SNE) was created to run standardized education for all populations in Mozambique. Over time, the literacy rate in Mozambique has increased, a change that can be attributed to the SNE as well as other important initiatives.

The Current Education System

Mozambique law requires that all citizens attend school through the primary levels, grades one to six. After grade seven, the law requires students to take a national exam in order to qualify for entrance into secondary school, which runs from grades eight to 10. After secondary school, the majority of students either return to their parents’ subsistence farms, gain employment as teachers or are unemployed due to limited space in universities.

However, Mozambique’s primary school population more than tripled from 1995 to 2005, going from 1.3 million to 3.8 million. The number of unenrolled children in primary school accordingly decreased from roughly 470,000 in 2010 to 354,000 in 2018. Meanwhile, the gross enrollment ratio for students in secondary school has steadily increased, going from roughly 25% in 2010 to 35% in 2017. The gross enrollment ratio for students in university (tertiary) education has increased slowly from roughly 4.5% in 2010 to 7% in 2018. The end result of these numbers naturally increased the literacy rate in Mozambique. For example, the literacy rate in Mozambique among those 15 or older has increased from 25% in 1980 to 60% in 2018.

Increasing the Literacy Rate in Mozambique

The Ministry of Education initiated a new program to decentralize curriculum development and monitoring so that only 20% of the national curriculum would be allocated for “local” curricula. These local curricula would teach students specific skills or techniques they may need in their particular region or district. Importantly, the initiative has led to the increased enrollment of students as well as an increased literacy rate in Mozambique.

The Mozambique government has also made great strides to increase access and efficiency of the education system. It has taken away school fees and invested in creating more schools while providing more resources for students at the primary level. The education secretary now receives almost 15% of the state budget, which has significantly helped push for an increased enrollment rate and literacy rate in Mozambique.

The 2012–2019 Education Strategic Plan and the 2015–2018 Primary Education Operational Plan focused on two areas to improve upon: quality and access to education. The government wanted to focus on pre-primary and primary education so that students receive a solid foundation for learning. This would increase the population’s and future generations’ literacy rate. To accomplish this, the government has cited the following priorities: promote increased access to early learning and school readiness, improve quality of primary education, promote increased access for vulnerable children, retain adolescent girls and create efficient capacity building for better planning, management and monitoring at the national, sub-national and local levels.

International Aid and Assistance

World Education is an organization that creates programs to help improve education in countries all over the world. It has contributed significantly to the Ministry of Education’s planning for increased literacy rates within the country. In particular, World Education has helped implement the Early Grade Reading Project. This project would train more teachers in creating instruction materials, evaluating students and understanding reading improvement. World Education has also introduced the Let’s Read program to Mozambique. This program helps develop students’ skills in writing and reading in the local language. It also improves their speaking and listening skills in Portuguese.

The World Bank has also provided significant funds and assistance for the increased literacy rate in Mozambique. In 2015, the World Bank approved more than $107.9 million to support quality, access and equity of education. Some of the activities these funds help to support include improving school readiness through early childhood development programs, implementing curriculum reform, adding more teacher-training, enhancing local and state governance in curriculum creation and focusing on resources for more vulnerable students.

What Is the United States Doing?

The United States has recently allocated $15 million to the Mozambique Ministry of Education during the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds will help set up a crisis management team; provide distance learning programs through technology; enforce psycho-social support for children experiencing distress, anxiety or trauma; re-stock textbooks when school re-opens and adjust classes  for students who are falling behind or have special education needs.

Final Takeaway

The Mozambique government has persevered in improving its literacy curriculum, increasing access to education and resourcing schools. The literacy rate in Mozambique has steadily increased since 1980 as a result. Importantly, this increased literacy rate will continue to serve the Mozambique people as they work to further improve education.

Aria Ma
Photo: Flickr

Efforts and Solutions for the Refugee Crisis in Mozambique
Mozambique is facing a refugee crisis. Around 600 people have been killed and over 115,000 people are displaced due to violence in Cabo Delgado. Most internally displaced people fled to Pemba, with others opting to escape to Mocimba da Praia, Ibo Island and Macomia. The region, one of the poorest in Mozambique, is prone to violence, disease outbreaks and extreme weather events, such as 2019’s Cyclone Kenneth.

Conflict in Cabo Delgado

Ansar al Sunna is allegedly responsible for much of the recent violence. It carried out attacks more frequently beginning in 2020. Violence in Cabo Delgado has now spread to most of the province’s 17 districts. Because of the attacks, agricultural workers have stopped planting crops. As a result, there is rising food insecurity and loss of income. In addition, the increased violence is preventing students and teachers from being in schools, threatening to lower the current literacy rate of 44% in the province.

The Refugee Crisis in Mozambique

The most urgent need for refugees is shelter, but this presents several challenges. Dozens of people have been living together in the same home after fleeing violence in Cabo Delgado. Additionally, thousands have been residing in schools set up as makeshift shelters, causing COVID-19 to spread more easily.

Additionally, violence has caused people to abandon numerous hospitals in Cabo Delgado. Before the violence, Cabo Delgado had limited medical infrastructure and hospital space, making it difficult for it to respond to disease outbreaks, like cholera and COVID-19.

Solution for the Refugee Crisis

One possible solution is to increase coastal security. Natural gas fields are located off the coast of Cabo Delgado, and the groups use this as an opportunity to smuggle drugs.

Another potential solution is for greater regional cooperation in southern Africa. According to Mail & Guardian, this is difficult because of Mozambique’s aspiration to have control over the situation and using armed forces to commit human rights violations, such as accusing IDPs of being the perpetrators of violence and treated as criminals. While military action might be necessary, there needs to be a regional response to poverty and security in the province to stop violence in Cabo Delgado. The South African Development Community would spearhead this. This organization consists of 16 countries, including Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Cooperation is necessary to protect stability throughout the region.

Organizations That Alleviate Refugee Crisis in Mozambique

Various organizations have taken steps to help alleviate the hardships the refugees face. This includes a collaboration between the United Nations Development Program and Japan. Through a $643,000 grant, more than 3,000 households and roughly 16,000 people in poverty will receive help. The grant aims to address the root causes of poverty to help alleviate violence. Meanwhile, the United Nations Refugee Agency committed $2 million in February 2020 to address the issues in Mozambique. This includes helping roughly 15,000 people through additional resources and representatives on the ground. Similarly, in July 2020, The European Commission agreed to provide 65 million Euros to several countries in southern Africa. About 5 million Euros will go to Cabo Delgado specifically to address security, food, shelter, disaster readiness and health care relief efforts, with emphasis on COVID-19 relief.

Within Cabo Delgado, The Bishop of Pemba has been one of the loudest voices for humanitarian aid. He recounted the violence of churches burning and suffering destruction by insurgency, the growing humanitarian crisis and the importance of aid to the region. As a result, Vatican News described him as a “voice of the voiceless.” In April 2020, he said that it was complicated to tell whether all of the violence was government-sponsored or a result of extremist groups. The Bishop of Pemba claimed that even though the province has offshore oil, the government’s failure to address poverty and unemployment has only led to more exploitation in the region. Through his appeal to The Vatican, The Bishop was able to get Pope Francis to mention specifically the humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado in his Easter message.

Bryan Boggiano
Photo: Flickr

Tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa
As tuberculosis (TB) kills more than a million people each year, a new strategy to detect the disease has emerged: using rats to identify TB positive samples. TB remains the world’s deadliest disease, infecting 10 million and killing 1.5 million people in 2018. Tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa is also the main cause of death for people living with HIV.

In Mozambique, where 13.2% of the population has HIV, more than half of the people with TB also have HIV. Along with malnutrition and other diseases, HIV reduces resistance to TB, so people living in poverty are especially susceptible to TB. Those experiencing poverty are also more likely to have fewer healthcare options and spend most of their lives in overcrowded conditions and poorly ventilated buildings where TB can easily spread. However, TB is treatable; it just needs to be caught in time. APOPO, a Belgian NGO, works to detect tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa by training rats to sniff it out.

How Can Rats Detect Tuberculosis?

For nine months, African giant pouched rats are trained to sniff out TB from samples of sputum — the mucus produced from coughs. Much like the Pavlov’s dog theory, trainers condition rats to associate the sound of a click with a reward; the rats only hear a click and receive a reward when they interact with TB positive samples. The rats have to hold their snouts over the sample for two to three seconds to indicate the positive sample. To “graduate” and become heroRATS — the official name for APOPOs rats — the rats go through a testing process where they have to detect every TB positive sample among rows of sputum.

Since 2007, APOPO has partnered with local clinics that send potential TB samples for the rats to check. Health clinics perform smear microscopy tests that often come up negative when they are actually positive. The heroRATS help to correct this problem by accurately identifying the TB positive samples. Their detection rats can check up to 100 TB samples in 20 minutes while the same task might take a lab technician up to four days. After the APOPO lab confirms the TB samples tested by the rats (using WHO methods), they alert the clinic about the results. So far, the rats have screened 580,534 TB samples and prevented 126,375 potential TB infections, raising TB detection rates of partner clinics by 40%.

The Relationship Between TB and Poverty

When medical professionals are unable to detect tuberculosis and treat it in time, the disease can augment poverty rates, making living conditions even worse for people who have it. Because TB is highly contagious, those with the disease are not allowed to go to work or school, leading to a loss of income and education. The stigma surrounding TB is also detrimental; people are often excluded from the community, so they can no longer rely on support from previous outlets. APOPO’s work to increase the TB test’s accuracy and speed helps those infected to know their correct results and then seek more immediate treatment.

Progress Detecting Tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa

The three main countries APOPO operates in  — Tanzania, Mozambique and Ethiopia —  are all considered high burden TB countries.

  • Tanzania: Tanzania has one of the highest TB burdens in the world at approximately 295 TB cases per 10,000 adults. With a poverty rate of 49.1%, almost half of Tanzanians are susceptible to TB’s spread. To help alleviate the effects of this disease, APOPO began in Tanzania in 2007 and has since expanded to 74 collaborating clinics across the country. A new testing facility in Dar es Salaam opened in 2016 and delivers results to clinics in 24 hours. Along with increasing accuracy, the APOPO facilities and rats boost the TB detection rate to around 35%.

  • Mozambique: After its success in Tanzania, in 2012 APOPO developed programs in Mozambique, where approximately 62.9% of the population lives in poverty. In partnership with Eduardo Mondlane University, APOPO built a new testing facility on the university’s grounds in Maputo. This center works with 20 local healthcare clinics and delivers results in 24 hours, which increases the probability of the patient starting treatment because it reduces the time and effort it takes to track down a patient to inform them of the results. Due to this partnership, the TB detection rate has increased by 53%.

  • Ethiopia: With a 30.8% poverty rate, Ethiopia ranks 10th for the highest TB burden in the world. To help identify these cases, APOPO is currently building a detection facility with the Armauer Hansen Research Institute. Additionally, this center will not only partner with clinics in Addis Ababa to test for TB, but will also screen up to 52,000 prison inmates and staff located in 35 prisons across Ethiopia. At the clinics, the goal is to increase identified TB cases by 35% while developing its program to create a long term impact in Ethiopia.

Armed with its innovative thinking — and its heroRATS — APOPO is making progress in detecting tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa and limiting its spread.

Zoë Padelopoulos
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in Mozambique
Mozambique is a Sub-Saharan African country located on the Southeast coast of Africa bordering the Indian Ocean. The country has a population of nearly 28 million people and is both culturally and biologically diverse. Global statistics classify Mozambique as one of the world’s poorest countries with a national poverty average between 41-46%. Slow economic growth and informal government control have led to unhealthy and unstable living conditions. Issues regarding sanitation and water services are prevalent in the country. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Mozambique.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Mozambique

  1. According to WaterAid, 14.8 million people in Mozambique do not have access to clean water, which is over half of its population. High levels of poverty make building and maintaining services difficult, or even unattainable. The government of Mozambique needs funding to make commitments to its citizens, but in 2016 following a drop in commodity prices, donors like World Bank halted all aid—furthering the economic crisis.
  2. Water is an essential daily resource for all people including those in Mozambique. People in Mozambique use it for direct consumption, cooking, irrigating fields and sanitation. Rural communities often have to obtain their water from natural sources like rivers, hand-dug wells or ponds.
  3. UNICEF identified that in rural areas, one in five people use surface water as their primary drinking water source. Water from rivers, lakes, ponds and streams can contain bacteria, parasites, viruses and possibly other contaminants. To make surface water fit to drink, treatment is necessary. In fact, UNICEF has taken efforts to improve water services in the form of implementing Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in Mozambique.
  4. The World Bank allocated a $75 million International Development Association (IDA) grant to Mozambique in June 2019 to help with water services and institutional support projects. The grant will fund water production, expansion and refurbishment on wellfields, water treatment facilities and intake to improve all water services, as well as building the country’s resilience to droughts.
  5. WaterAid stated that three in four people in Mozambique do not have a decent toilet, amounting to 21.4 million people. Access to proper sanitation leads to the ability to have good hygiene that affects livelihood and sustainability. Citizens have to travel even a few days to find a decent toilet or care for older relatives, so they are unable to work or attend school. Women and girls often suffer the most due to this as it can impact their ability to garner an education, as well as their health and personal safety.
  6. Mozambique has one of the highest open defecation rates in Sub-Saharan Africa at 36%. Nine million Mozambicans use unsanitary or shared latrines and have no latrine at all, defecating in the open. The poorest quintile is four times more likely to practice open defecation than the richest.
  7. As many as 76% of the population do not have or use improved sanitation facilities, with the rate being 88% in rural areas compared to 53% in urban and peri-urban areas. Citizens need access to improved water supply or better sanitation but often cannot obtain the necessities if they live in low-income, informal or illegal settlements or on the outskirts of cities.
  8. Poor sanitation costs Mozambique $124 million (US), yet eliminating the practice would require that the country build two million latrines. Mozambique loses $22 million per year due to open defecation. People that practice open defecation spend 2.5 days out of a year on average looking for a private location, which often leads to economic losses. The country also experiences a $22 million loss due to health care costs relating to open defecation illnesses. Additionally, the country spends $79 million due to premature death costs.
  9. WaterAid identified that over 2,500 children under 5-years-old die every year from diarrhea due to dirty water and poor toilets. Fragresse Finiassa, a mother of six, obtained training from UNICEF’s WASH Program. Finiassa stated that “We used to suffer a lot from diarrhea. When we had severe diarrhea, we would have to walk five hours to the health center for treatment.” The lack of a toilet meant that “At night, our shoes would often get dirty, because we couldn’t see where we were treading, and my children would also get scared to go out in the bush (to defecate) in the dark.” However, that all changed in 2016 when her community learned the dangers of open defecation and received training for toilet construction. Men in the community learned how to build latrines and covered them with concrete slabs for proper defecation and contribute to improved health.
  10. According to UNICEF, 246 of every 1,000 children born in Mozambique die within their first five years, with 13% of deaths directly due to a lack of access to proper sanitation and clean water, and poor hygiene practices. Cholera infection is the most common waterborne illness that citizens face due to stagnant water sources. Reports determined that there was a cumulative total of 6,382 cases and eight deaths as of April 2019.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Mozambique have shown that it may be able to eradicate poverty through improved sanitation and management of water resources, as these could foster economic growth.  Access to proper sanitation could greatly improve Mozambique’s economy and start to lift the country out of poverty.

– Anna Brewer
Photo: Flickr