Schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia) is a disease that is rarely heard outside of scientific circles. This has less to do with the severity of schistosomiasis, and more to do with the fact that its parasitic sibling, malaria, is a far more common and well-known illness. The largest concentration of schistosomiasis in the world, a staggering 90 percent, is in Africa.
Schistosomiasis: What is it?
While schistosomiasis tends to be overshadowed by its well-known cousin malaria, there is still a wealth of information on how it functions, spreads and affects the human body. Schistosomiasis is caused by parasitic worms that inhabit the bodies of some freshwater snails. Humans are infected when they interact with bodies of water containing these snails. Common recreational and domestic activities like swimming and washing clothes in and near infected waters are attributed to the spread of schistosomiasis.
Schistosomiasis comes in two different types: urinary schistosomiasis and intestinal schistosomiasis. Urinary schistosomiasis is characterized by extensive damage to the kidneys, bladder and ureters. Intestinal schistosomiasis is characterized via symptoms of an engorged spleen and liver, which leads to intestinal damage and hypertension in the abdominal blood vessels. The first symptom of schistosomiasis is a light skin rash known as “swimmers itch.” Once a human is infected, symptoms (chills, aches and coughing fits) can appear within one to two months. However, many infections are asymptomatic; the infection is there, but no symptoms appear.
Schistosomiasis is transferred from person to person when an infected individual’s excrement reaches a water supply. The parasitic eggs from then hatch, infect another snail (or human) and the cycle begins anew. Proper sanitation and potable water are the main ways to prevent the spread of this disease.
The disease schistosomiasis does not always result in death. Schistosomiasis commonly ends in stunted growth and anemia in children, and can even lead to infertility in cases of urinary schistosomiasis. Children can also find themselves with a reduced ability to learn due to the crippling symptoms this disease comes with.
There is no vaccine to cure schistosomiasis and no antibiotic has proven effective in preventing infection. However, there are effective means to diagnose and treat schistosomiasis before the infection truly takes hold. The drug, praziquantel, has proven useful in removing the worms and their eggs from the human body. Although there is poor access to praziquantel, this treatment has reached more than 28 percent of people around the world.
Where Schistosomiasis Congregates
Africa has a truly staggering number of schistosomiasis cases compared to the rest of the world. Nigeria has the most cases out of any African country, with approximately 29 million infected. The United Republic of Tanzania has the second-most cases of infection at 19 million with Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo tied at 15 million.
Schistosomiasis and Poverty: The Correlation
Schistosomiasis is predominantly found in areas of extreme poverty; where ever this disease goes, destitution soon follows. Schistosomiasis and poverty are intrinsically linked, and the most common reasoning for this occurrence is that extreme poverty often restricts access to clean water sources, which in turn causes people to use unsanitary water sources where schistosomiasis thrives and infection occurs. From there, the infected individual will succumb to the crippling disabilities that schistosomiasis infection eventually brings. This leads to reduced productivity in the community as the disease continues to spread, ensuring no end to this vicious cycle of poverty without outside intervention.
What Next? The Future of Schistosomiasis
There is hope, however, as NGO’s like the SCI foundation (founded in 2002) have dedicated themselves to the eradication of parasitic worm diseases. The SCI foundation’s biggest success in the fight against schistosomiasis is in Mozambique, where SCI has treated more than 30 million people of parasitic worm diseases. Further, SCI has already treated more than 12 million people in Tanzania alone since 2004. The foundation also recently (as of 2016) started to extend their treatment programs to Nigeria. With more than 2 million people already treated in such a short time, the SCI foundation can be trusted to reach Tanzania levels of treatment soon enough.
The future is bright for communities burdened with schistosomiasis and poverty, as many countries have been able to eradicate this disease from their lands. Tunisia and Japan were able to completely eradicate schistosomiasis within their borders, and China, Brazil and Egypt are well on their way to reaching that end goal.
– Ryan Holman
Scuba diving is the practice of underwater diving with a SCUBA, an acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. The United States Special Force’s frogmen initially used this during the Second World War. Through this technology, divers can go underwater without connecting to a surface oxygen supply. The main aim for many scuba divers today is dive tourism, with marine conservation trailing closely behind. It is through these conservation efforts and tourism businesses in coastal areas that plenty of communities have found themselves being alleviated from poverty. Scuba diving can alleviate poverty due to the new employment opportunities that arise through environmental efforts, as well as the work scuba diving training businesses provide.
Although the Earth’s equatorial belt possesses 75 percent of the world’s most productive and beautiful coral reefs, this area is home to over 275 million individuals living under poverty. These are individuals who depend directly on coral reefs, fish and marine resources for their food, security and income.
According to Judi Lowe, Ph.D. in Dive Tourism, these incredible bio-diverse coral reefs have immense potential for dive tourism. However, conflicts are currently present between dive operators and local communities due to a limited supply of essential resources. If businesses in the diving industry turned to greener practices and focused on indigenous local communities, they could achieve marine conservation, along with poverty alleviation.
Integrated Framework Coastal Management and Poverty Alleviation
Without a doubt, efforts to preserve the marine environment must include local communities to preserve the marine environment. By including people whose livelihoods are dependent on fisheries and aquaculture into recreational scuba diving, there will be greater benefits for the community and the environment. One of the pre-existing frameworks that ensure this mutual symbiosis is the integrated framework of coastal management.
Integrated framework coastal management is a tool that ensures a successful and profitable outcome for all parties involved in the use and conservation of marine resources. Through this model, locals integrate into the administration and the use of natural resources in several water-based industries. Supplemental payments and employment within other businesses create employment opportunities, should fish bans or similar legislative actions displace primary jobs. This has occurred in Northern Mozambique and Kenya.
Scuba Diving and Poverty Alleviation in Mozambique
Mozambique is a country with a history of the slave trade, colonization and 15 years of civil war. Nevertheless, it is a nation in the equatorial belt that has significant tourism potential. After the civil war, tourism was its quickest growing industry. Forty-five percent of the country’s population participates in the tourism industry.
Poverty is lowest in the province of Ponta do Ouro, located in the southern-most area of Mozambique. Ponta do Ouro is home to the greatest levels of marine tourism, where tourists and locals collaborate to participate in water-based activities such as scuba diving. The area particularly favors scuba diving due to the presence of bull sharks, tiger sharks and hammerheads. It also has year-round warm water and is home to humpback whales from August through November. As it holds pristine marine biodiversity, the area is a marine protected area (MPA).
Scuba activities in Ponta do Ouro mainly happen within scuba diving management areas that follow the diver code of conduct. Most diving in the area is done to maintain the biophysical environment through the monitoring and assessment of ecosystem health and management of marine pollution by maintaining low levels of plastic pollution that accumulates in the bays along the coastline.
Not only can scuba diving alleviate poverty through dive tourism, but MPAs have also been influential. For example, MPAs have helped promote and facilitate the involvement of Mozambicans to monitor their fisheries, map different user groups that can overlay with physical and biological data and conduct research. All of these actions help locals find employment and elevate their living standards.
In the future, a greater exploration of the Mozambican Indian Ocean should be explored and strategic planning to maintain the attractiveness of the area and avoid loss of biodiversity is imperative. This will open up greater possibilities for locals to set up dive sites and cultivate diving enterprises, conserve the biological species and obtain greater income.
SPACES, Diving and Poverty Alleviation in Kenya
The Sustainable Poverty Alleviation from Coastal Ecosystem Services (SPACES) Project is a collaborative initiative funded by the U.K. Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) and SwedBio. The project aims to uncover the scientific knowledge on the complex relationship between ecosystem services, poverty and human wellbeing. The project studies sites in Mozambique and Kenya.
The concept of ecosystem services (ES) that the project uses determined that humans derive great benefits from ecosystems. People can apply these benefits to environmental conservation, human well-being and poverty alleviation. People can also use them to inform and develop interventions. If people implement the integrated framework coastal management, there is a large possibility for ecosystem services to inform the development of ES interventions that contribute to poverty alleviation through entrepreneurial activities. If locals cultivate diving enterprises, these communities would reap the benefits of the cash-based livelihood that many diving businesses currently possess.
Lobster Diving in Honduras
In Honduras, diving has been a primary livelihood. In the Central American country that shares its borders with Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, lobster diving serves as a way of living, particularly in the indigenous community of Miskito. Mosquita is one of the most impoverished areas of Latin America.
Despite the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) setting safe standard diving techniques, one that calls for a gradual ascent to the surface and a limit to the number of dives a person can make in one day, the divers of Mosquita dive deeply, surface quickly and go back for more. They race to collect as much lobster as possible, fishing to take their families and themselves out of poverty. These conditions make them prone to nitrogen decompression sickness, a sickness that disabled over 1,200 Miskitos since 1980.
Nevertheless, a diver receives $3 for every pound of lobster they get and 28 cents for every sea cucumber. This is a significant amount of money for the area and for that reason, many take the risk. The boats where the divers spend their time between dives also only have rudimentary safety equipment, using aging tanks and masks. These divers need to do their jobs to raise themselves out of poverty. Until the government implements necessary training to divers, as well as health insurance provisions, divers will remain at risk. Lobster diving has great potential for promoting marine biodiversity, poverty alleviation and sustainable coastal development; however, health precautions must be a priority as well in order for lobster diving to be a truly sustainable solution.
Scuba diving can alleviate poverty with its safety practices and dedication for marine conservation, which opens up many opportunities for technological and economic advances through educational, conservation and entrepreneurship potential. Aside from igniting passion and dedication to fighting for the underwater environment, scuba diving urges divers to fight for their survival, their protection and their businesses as well. It is therefore understandable why many have come to value scuba diving as one of the most potent ways to educate society about environmental conservation, and with it, help increase living standards for coastal communities.
– Monique Santoso
Located in southeastern Africa, Mozambique is a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking. Traffickers deceive girls migrating to Mozambique by promising education and employment opportunities to coerce them into sex trafficking. As a result, women are exposed to drugs, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and violence. Free the Girls is one of many organizations fights sex trafficking in Mozambique.
About Free the Girls
Dave Terpstra, a priest at Duneland Community Church in Denver, and Kimba Langas, a church member, co-founded Free The Girls. This international nonprofit aims to help victims of sex trafficking by collecting bra donations. Originally starting as a Facebook page, Free The Girls quickly gained popularity and success.
Every six weeks volunteers gather at Duneland Community Church or “The Bra Church.” This is where they sort new and gently used bras and send them to Mozambique. Upon receiving these donations, survivors can start their own businesses selling bras at local second-hand clothing markets while they recover and build a new life.
Free the Girls fights sex trafficking in Mozambique by creating a pathway to economic freedom, restored health, social well being, education and opportunity for a more hopeful future.
In 2015, volunteers packed 833 boxes containing 166,600 bras and shipped 769 boxes overseas containing 153,800 bras. Donations to correction facilities, domestic violence shelters and trafficking shelters totaled approximately 2,000 bras. In addition, the organization reached 23,400 supporters on social media. Through the help of the program, nine women bought land, three women bought or rented a house and one woman enrolled in university.
In 2016, donations totaled 183,000 bras, volunteers sent out 685 boxes and 59 boxes of bras went to women’s correctional facilities, shelters and pregnancy assistance centers. Likewise, Free the Girls gained 27,040 social media supporters. Most importantly, 13 women graduated from the program, seven pursued educational opportunities and four built a home or purchased land.
Selling bras has tremendously impacted the lives of women in Mozambique. It provides the opportunity for women to become financially and spiritually independent. Free the Girls has launched an empowering approach for women to reintegrate into society and take control of their futures.
– Merna Ibrahim
Environmental conservation is an often-forgotten aspect of reducing global poverty and providing sustainable income for coastal communities. Conserving the ocean has become an even more pressing issue now because of overfishing. However, one company is putting this at the forefront of their work. Rare’s Fish Forever campaign is working to end the unprecedented endangerment of our coastal waters and protect the families who depend on them.
What Is Rare’s Fish Forever?
Founded in 1995 by Brett Jenks, Rare is an organization with a focus on conservation as a means to protect the world’s most vulnerable people and ensure that the wetlands, forests and oceans they depend on continue to thrive. Fish Forever is a campaign that targets coastal revitalization and conserving biodiversity along coastlines through bottom-up solutions. Jenks says, “The aim isn’t to teach a community to fish; it’s to help ensure they can fish forever.” Ensuring a future for these coastal communities relies on sustainable fishing practices.
Rare’s Fish Forever campaign uses community-led initiatives to provide solutions to issues like overfishing and coastal mismanagement because it empowers local populations and incentivizes future compliance with new regulations. These local people work with all levels of their government to come up with solutions that fit their unique situation. Active in Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, Belize and Mozambique, Rare’s Fish Forever acts as a guide for communities while also providing tools the improve the data needed for these countries to make informed decisions.
Fish Forever in Mozambique
Mozambique is an African country with more than 1,500 miles of coastline, sustaining millions of people. Half of the population lives on the coastline in fishing communities. In fact, the economy is largely dependent on fisheries, particularly small-scale or artisan fisheries. Almost 85 percent of all fish caught in Mozambique are done so on a small-scale. Communities such as those in the Nampula, Sofala, Inhambane, Maputa and Cabo Delgado regions are good candidates for Rare’s Fish Forever solutions because they are home to most of the small-scale fisherman.
The country’s coastline is very diverse, second only to the Coral Triangle. However, due to climate change and unregulated fishing, the size of the fish catches has declined. In the last 25 years, small-scale catch sizes have declined 30 percent, and it is continuing to decline. Additionally, fisherman asserted that some species of fish had all-together disappeared. Climate change would only worsen these issues, so Rare’s Fish Forever worked with communities to come up with solutions to this threat. Together with Rare’s Fish Forever program, communities came up with four broad solutions to revitalize coastlines, protect biodiversity and ensuring sizeable fish catches for families.
- First, they decided to adopt government frameworks to better regulate fishing behaviors and make fishing more sustainable.
- Then, they built and strengthened community-based management of coastal fisheries.
- Thirdly, communities established fishing areas with managed access – places where fishing was prohibited or limited – and provided social and economic benefits to communities who abided by these rules.
- Lastly, they made environmental conservation more of the social norm through education and marketing campaigns.
All in all, Mozambique is on its way to recovery. With more than 100 organizations and institutions supporting Rare’s Fish Forever program, the country’s coastal waters and fishing communities are in good hands. That means a higher chance of conserving the ocean.
Rare’s Fish Forever in the Philippines
Coastal communities in the Philippines face the same sorts of issues as those in Mozambique. Looc Bay is a beautiful location that is home to many communities and attracts its fair share of tourists. Unfortunately, a combination of overfishing by local fisherman and environmental degradation from irresponsible tourism have caused a significant decline in the fish populations. This has only been accelerated by climate change.
The communities in the area have always been wary of external intervention. Their greatest worry when initially approached by Rare’s Fish Forever program was that coastal management would restrict fishing to a point that families could no longer sustain themselves through small-scale fishing. This distrust was fortunately misplaced.
Today, more than 4.4 square miles of coastal waters have been declared as Managed Access Areas and sanctuaries. These protected critical habitats require exclusive clearance, which is only granted to fisherman who comply with sustainable practices. To date, more than 800 fishermen have been granted exclusive access area, meaning that they are also faithful practitioners of sustainable fishing.
Jose Ambrocio, the Looc Municipal Councilor and chairperson of the Agricultural and Environmental Committee, has noted that “With Rare’s Fish Forever program, we are working to balance the economic needs of the people and the need to conserve the resources for the future generation.”
By challenging communities to develop their own solutions, Rare’s Fish Forever program is sustainable and empowering. Through this program, and programs like it, more sustainable fishing practices can be put into place, thus working towards a better future by conserving the ocean.
– Julian Mok
Six weeks after Cyclone Idai ripped through central and southern Mozambique in March, Cyclone Kenneth added further destruction in the northern portion of the country. Having these consecutive disasters is highly abnormal in the region, and the impact of both storms has left over 650 people dead in Mozambique alone. Time Magazine reported that Mozambique would need $3.2 billion in order to recover after the damage caused by the storms.
Mozambique is already a developmentally challenged country, suffering from high poverty rates due to high population growth, low agricultural productivity, illnesses and unequal distribution of wealth. These storms have left many citizens with nothing, further impoverishing the country. One of the most impactful yet overlooked aspects of the storms is the influence they have had and will continue to have over students. Cyclone effects on Mozambican students have made it difficult — and sometimes simply impossible — for the young population to continue their educations.
Impact on Students
More than 600 schools in Mozambique were damaged, impacting more than 300,000 students’ access to education. School records have been destroyed, roofs are missing from schools, and the water damage to classrooms is significant. School supplies have also been destroyed, meaning students have no access to notebooks, textbooks or writing utensils. Because of the damage to many classrooms, students are being forced to overcrowd classrooms, forcing multiple teachers to use the same room. This has proven to be highly distracting for students, and their focus is not fully on the content they are learning.
Along with schools being damaged and inadequate, other cyclone effects on Mozambican students come from the storms’ impact on their lives outside of school. With the devastation of the cyclones, many students come from families who have lost their homes, or even someone who had lived with them. As a result, children are unable to attend school, and both the ones who do and don’t attend school are suffering from lack of proper food and water — often going without either.
Additionally, the psychological toll that these storms have taken on kids has led to disruptions in their learning abilities. Many kids have seen the effects of the storms firsthand, having lost family members, neighbors and friends in the floods. School attendance rates are already low, with less than half of children under 15 fulfilling the country’s mandatory primary school program. That number decreases to less than 20 percent when it comes to high school attendance because many families cannot afford to pay school fees.
Various organizations have stepped up to provide relief and spread awareness about the disastrous effects of the storms, both in general and specifically for students. The Red Cross was among the first groups to arrive in areas of Mozambique severely affected, providing immediate aid to people in need. World Vision is another organization that has been active in its media coverage of what’s going on within Mozambique, in addition to its relief efforts. In Mozambique specifically, its focus is on providing food, water, child protection services and further education. It has also established two Child-Friendly spaces where kids are sheltered and given activities to do.
Save the Children, an organization based in the U.K., has consulted children and their families on their experiences with the storms. Affected children have shown varying sign of psychological stress, ranging from general anxiety that another storm will come to bedwetting. The organization has been in Mozambique since before the first cyclone made contact, and it has been providing child protection, emergency shelter and healthcare.
Overall, there is much to be done in terms of relief when it comes to Mozambique’s recovery. Much of the aid will go toward providing people with the essentials: food, water and shelter. However, attention should be paid particularly to the cyclone effects on Mozambican students. Access to education should be afforded to all children, regardless of socioeconomic status. Thankfully, there are a number of organizations that recognize that education needs to be prioritized in the aid they give.
— Emi Cormier
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
With winds equivalent to a category 3 hurricane and storm surges surpassing 20 feet, Cyclone Idai made landfall near Beira, Mozambique in the early hours of March 15, 2019. One of the most powerful storms to ever hit Southern Africa, Idai left a trail of destruction and displacement, turning life upside down for residents along the coast. Now, months later, communities throughout the region continue to cope with the aftermath.
Effects of Cyclone Idai
What is now 2019’s deadliest weather event, the latest figures put Idai’s death toll at 847. The storm left millions of people affected, thousands displaced, entire communities in shambles and thousands of hectares of crops destroyed. As authorities continue to unpack the extent of the damage, the need for increased public health initiatives is evident. With the floods triggering widespread water contamination across the region, cholera and malaria outbreaks are becoming shockingly prevalent.
Perhaps Cyclone Idai afflicted Mozambique the most, where Reuters News reported that it killed nearly 600 people and destroyed more than 110,000 homes. In Beira, home to roughly 500,000 people, sweeping power outages and water contamination has made the city a hotbed for disease outbreaks. “The supply chain has been broken, creating food, clean water, and healthcare shortages,” says Gert Verdonck, the Emergency Coordinator for Doctor’s Without Borders (MSF) in Beira. “The scale of extreme damage will likely lead to a dramatic increase of waterborne diseases.”
Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
Following the storm, MSF quickly scaled up operations in Beira and other cyclone-stricken areas of Mozambique. With roughly 146,000 internally displaced persons seeking refuge in 155 camps across the country, MSF has launched an enormous relief effort. Dispatching emergency response teams to communities in need, MSF is working to implement vaccination programs and distribute food, water and medical supplies throughout Mozambique. Yet the scope of the damage is proving to be a difficult challenge for authorities and relief organizations. Treating over 200 cholera cases daily, MSF is calling on the international community to step up.
The World Health Organization and Cholera Vaccines
Also integral to relief efforts, the World Health Organization (WHO) is spearheading a massive vaccination program aimed at fighting the recent outbreaks. Through partnerships with humanitarian aid organizations Gavi and UNICEF, the WHO facilitated a shipment of almost 1 million cholera vaccines that arrived in Beira on April 2, 2019. A day later, a plane carrying 6.7 tonnes of medical supplies – essentials like medicine, stretchers, clean bandages and disposable gloves – landed in the coastal city. Opening an additional 500 beds and seven cholera treatment centers across cyclone-stricken Mozambique, the WHO is hoping to stifle water-borne illnesses in the region.
Despite valiant efforts from the WHO, MSF and other aid groups, the need for more funds and resources is evident. On April 1, the WHO requested an additional US$13 million to address communities affected by Cyclone Idai. With local authorities in Mozambique overwhelmed and underequipped to handle the fallout from Idai, the WHO is seeking to lead the charge, establishing response coordination at the national and provincial levels. Annual health care and aid expenditures in Mozambique are almost five percent below the global average, making foreign aid and nongovernmental relief organizations a vital piece of the recovery process.
An International Response
While some experts initially criticized the sluggish international response to Cyclone Idai, the global community has since placed considerable emphasis on relief efforts. Countries like Turkey, Botswana, Brazil and many more have supported Mozambique, allocating emergency funds and sending military assets to facilitate food, water and medicine distribution. Although combatting the cholera outbreaks and rebuilding communities that the storm devastated will be a stout challenge, the international response is promising. The response to Cyclone Idai indicates an international community both capable and willing to respond to natural disasters that impact the developing world.
– Kyle Dunphey
On March 14, 2019, a massive storm made landfall on Mozambique’s coast bringing heavy rains, flooding and chaos. The storm hit Beira, the fourth largest city in the country, hardest. With winds blowing over 105 miles per hour and torrential rains following it, Cyclone Idai became one of the most destructive storms in the past few years. Shortly after, Cyclone Kenneth struck the northern part of Mozambique with 140 mph winds and even heavier rainfall, creating more damage to the infrastructure in the region. Severe weather has affected all aspects of life in the country, and in particular, those living in poverty in Mozambique.
Mozambique is one of the poorest nations in the world with a GDP per capita of roughly $502. Although the poverty rate decreased from 59 percent to 48 percent, inequality still exists in the region between urban and rural areas. According to the World Bank, roughly 80 percent of poor people in Mozambique live in rural areas. Extreme weather conditions like cyclones or flooding exacerbate these inequalities. Because of this, the aftermath of these harsh storms more heavily affect people living in poverty.
Four Ways Extreme Weather Affects Poverty in Mozambique
1. Extreme Weather Destroys Local Infrastructure: Cyclone Idai caused more than $1 billion in damage to infrastructures like roads, bridges and dams in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. The storm destroyed roughly 100,000 homes and one million acres of crops as well and it heavily damaged 90 percent of the infrastructure in the port city of Beira upon impact. Hospitals, schools and business could not withstand the storm’s high wind speeds, even though people built them to hold up against 75 mile-per-hour winds.
Many cities in Mozambique did not have the resources to combat these storms, making the likelihood of the preparedness of rural areas for these disasters significantly lower. For the most part, solving the issue of poverty in Mozambique came second to disaster relief. The Post Disaster Needs Assessment stated that the country would need $3.2 billion for reconstruction and recovery efforts. Thankfully, however, developing partners have already pledged up to $1.2 billion to help begin the process of recovering the lost infrastructure.
2. Extreme Weather Displaces Citizens from Their Homes: The storm affected roughly three million people, and about 1.5 million were children. Just outside of the city Pemba, the destruction of mud houses forced roughly 15,000 people to move to overcrowded shelters or stay outside. This displacement made relief efforts even more difficult and urgent. As the storm stranded many people outside of their homes, they required more time to administer survival equipment and begin rebuilding processes. Many rural citizens in Mozambique will not only have to rebuild their entire home, but also have to handle the economic burden of the loss of their arable land.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has been working tirelessly and assisted more than half of these people in isolated and urban areas. The number of people living in shelters in the Sofala Province decreased from 16,600 people to 12,812 people in seven days. Although it is a slow process, these relief efforts are making a significant impact.
3. It increases the spread of diseases: One of the major effects of the two most recent cyclones has been the increase of cholera cases spreading across the country. Due to contamination of clean drinking water by flooding, there are reports of over 3,000 cases in Mozambique alone. Many shelters became very crowded after these natural disasters, which only increased the probability of cholera and other diseases like malaria to spread.
Luckily, there was a massive campaign by UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam and other relief agencies to vaccinate people against this outbreak. These organizations distributed around 900,000 doses of the vaccine to high-risk areas around Beira. However, this outbreak heightened the effects of extreme weather and had a dangerous effect on the lives of many people.
4. It Halts Agricultural Production: A large part of Mozambique’s economy revolves around agriculture. This industry contributes to more than a quarter of its GDP and employs roughly 80 percent of its labor force. This leaves the country’s economy very susceptible to extreme weather damages. When disasters hit, they impact the poorer populations living in rural areas the most.
Cyclone Idai destroyed 50 percent of the country’s annual crops, which are the main source of income for a lot of people. If extreme weather patterns of this force continue, a food scarcity crisis might begin in the country, and the economy might suffer those effects as well. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been adamant about focusing relief efforts in Mozambique as a top priority. FAO has called for $19 million to support heavily affected regions for three months to resume food production and assist fishing communities. By fulfilling this request, these areas can begin the process of rebuilding these vital industries.
For years, poverty in Mozambique has been a persistent problem for many people living in rural areas. Recently, extreme weather events have become increasingly more powerful and destructive. Various organizations are providing relief efforts that make a huge difference in the region such as the U.N.’s International Disaster Relief System and the United Nations World Food Programme. However, rebuilding efforts from this cyclone are far from over. Disaster preparedness is now becoming a focus for the government regarding infrastructure improvements. In order to end poverty in Mozambique, the country must use better techniques to protect its citizens and the land they depend on.
– Sydney Blakeney
Maternal health in Mozambique is a constant concern as the nation’s maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. While some progress has been made, there is still much that needs to be done to ensure that mothers in Mozambique have to access high-quality healthcare. Recently, two initiatives have been created, the Mozambique-Canada Maternal Health Project and a project by the Maternal and Child Survival Program. They are working to improve maternal health in Mozambique.
The Current State of Maternal Health
In 2015, the maternal mortality rate was 489 deaths per 100,000 live births. Approximately one-fifth of these deaths are women under the age of 20. Maternal mortality has declined since 1990 when there were approximately 1390 deaths per 100,000 live births; however, maternal deaths remain high. It is clear that continued efforts are needed to improve the quality of maternal health in Mozambique. Each day, approximately 800 pregnant women die from preventable causes.
One of the primary factors determining maternal mortality rates is the availability of antenatal care. In regions where more women receive four or more antenatal visits, the maternal mortality rate is generally lower. Globally, 62 percent of pregnant women have at least four antenatal visits with a skilled health professional, while 86 percent of women have at least one. In Mozambique, only 51 percent of expectant mothers have at least four antenatal visits.
Additionally, only 54 percent of births are attended by skilled health personnel. Age is also a factor, with 40 percent of women 20-24 years old reporting that they gave birth before the age of 18. Younger mothers have an increased risk of death during childbirth, particularly if there is not someone with medical training present.
Early marriage logically leads to childbirth at a younger age and improving maternal mortality rates in the nation relies on protecting young women. In response to this, the government of Mozambique created the National Strategy to Prevent and Combat Early Marriage in 2016. This program includes better education about sexual and reproductive rights with the goal of empowering women to seek out appropriate care and understand their legal rights. For poorer women, this knowledge is often not enough, however, as they may not have the autonomy to make a legal case or have a healthcare facility readily available to them.
Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP)
The Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) has launched a project in Mozambique’s Zambézia Province focused on treating pregnant women with malaria. Malaria currently accounts for 9.6 percent of deaths in the nation, and the rate in the Zambézia Province higher than the average. This project seeks to improve maternal health in Mozambique by tackling maternal and newborn deaths due to malaria.
Malaria during pregnancy has many consequences, including higher rates of maternal anemia and low birthweight babies. These factors increase the likelihood of maternal death as well as stillbirth. A treatment known as IPTs-SP exists that can prevent malaria in expectant mothers, but fewer than 22 percent of women in Mozambique receive adequate dosages during their pregnancy.
The MCSP project is empowering healthcare providers in Mozambique to treat malaria cases in pregnant women regardless of their complexity. For example, a young pregnant woman who had malaria but was also HIV-positive could not receive IPTp-SP treatments because the drug is incompatible with her HIV treatment. However, a different medication was able to be prescribed by an MCSP-trained nurse who had been trained on how to handle a variety of malaria cases.
The project also implemented a Standards-Based Management and Recognition for Malaria program in 58 health facilities in the Zambézia Province. This program is working to collect better data about malaria cases and more effectively implement initiatives for prevention and treatment.
Mozambique-Canada Maternal Health Project
Improving maternal health in Mozambique is a priority for the University of Saskatchewan as well. Researchers from the university are working with Mozambique’s health ministry and the NGO Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) to empower women in 20 different communities through the Mozambique-Canada Maternal Health Project.
Education is a key piece to this project, providing information on maternal, reproductive and sexual health to community members in a way that is participatory and engaging for adolescents and adults. The project is also prioritizing the education of health practitioners to improve the quality of care for mothers in Mozambique.
Additionally, the project seeks to improve resources in the community that can improve maternal and newborn health. They intend to provide local ambulances, establish maternal waiting homes nearby to clinics and support local midwives. The latter is the most important, as having locals who are trained health personnel can greatly benefit rural women who may not have the time or financial resources (particularly in situations of poverty) to travel to a clinic.
These efforts indicate that maternal health in Mozambique is continuing to be a priority. The work that these organizations are doing is focused on empowering women to make their own decisions about their sexual and reproductive lives, ensuring health personnel are properly trained and accessible and meeting the needs of poorer women.
Nearly a month after Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique, officials and civilians are working to clean up the disaster zone. The Category 2 storm first hit near the city of Beira, an important port in Southern Africa, on March 14th and 15th. Winds during this period exceeded 105 miles per hour. The northern provinces of Mozambique are now beginning the reconstruction process.
The deadly storm left 603 people dead, though officials suspect many more unidentified victims washed out to sea. Additionally, Cyclone Idai destroyed 110,000 homes, wiped away entire towns and left rich farmland waterlogged. The people of the northern provinces depend on food from this farmland for both survival and business.
An Uphill Battle Against Poor Infrastructure
Mozambique struggles with a lack of access to quality healthcare, education and infrastructure. As a result, the nation is ranked 218 out of 223 countries with an average life expectancy of 51.4 years. Their impoverished status makes it difficult for them to recover from natural disasters.
The country requires aid from outside sources to rebuild in the north where Cyclone Idai first met the coastline. The United Nations’ fundraising appeal to cover the initial costs totaled $282 million USD. Hospitals-in-boxes are being transported by boat, food is being dropped from planes and 900,000 cholera vaccines have recently arrived in Beira. The vaccines are being distributed in the north as part of an effort led by Doctors Without Borders.
The Added Challenge of Cholera
Despite vaccination efforts, the cholera outbreak is continuing to spread because people still do not have access to clean water in the wake of Cyclone Idai. Residents of Biera are facing the brunt of the outbreak due to poor water infrastructure and overcrowding. Many of these residents have been moved to displacement camps with equally poor conditions.
There are 3100 confirmed cases of cholera as of March 27th, with six deaths. Health volunteers and officials in Beira are hoping that cholera cases will fall in response to the restoration of running water. However, this running water can only reach 60 percent of the city’s residents.
Dr. Katrin Duget from the Pioneros Centre explains that the use of antiretroviral drugs is a good solution for the time being. Well-equipped health facilities are heading distribution efforts.
A Nation Moving Forward
Many civilians will struggle to move forward, as they have to work to rebuild entire communities and homes. For now, it is important to focus on longer-term solutions such as an investment in vaccines. Cholera can also be treated by simple rehydration, but it must come quickly because the disease can kill within hours. The water filters being installed by the UN are helping communities gain access to clean water to hydrate properly.
In the months after disasters such as Cyclone Idai, it is important to look at proactive measures that can be taken before another crisis strikes. These include food education programs as well as vaccinations which can help civilians survive during a lack of widespread resources.
The Southeast African country of Mozambique has made great progress in education in terms of enrollment and access. However, retention rates the quality of education are still inadequate and are still a huge issue for the country. The top 10 facts about girls’ education in Mozambique presented in the text below will cover the successes and shortcomings of the school system in the country and the effects it has on girls and gender equality.
Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Mozambique
- Mozambique ranked 139th out of 159 countries on the UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index. Various cultural beliefs that insist on the inferiority of women expose females to threats of disease, discrimination and violence.
- Around 94 percent of girls in Mozambique enroll in primary school. Mozambique’s primary and secondary schools became free in 2003, making them accessible even for low-income families. Mozambique also invested in teachers and infrastructure, reducing the distance students needed to travel to get to school. The school system reform nearly doubled school enrollments from 2003 to 2014.
- Despite the fact that there is a high number of girls in primary schools, only 11 percent of girls continue to study in secondary schools. As girls grow older, they are met by an increasing domestic workload and more responsibilities. Many girls choose to stay at home in order to do chores or work to help their families.
- In terms of primary and secondary school enrollment, Mozambique does continually increase gender parity, from 0.74 in 2000 to 0.92 in 2015.
- Although enrollment rates have increased dramatically, the quality of education in Mozambique still demands improvement. An alarming 66 percent of students graduate from primary school without having proper reading, writing and math skills. As one USAID sponsored study showed, over half of third graders could not read and those who could have great difficulty doing so.
- Mozambique’s female literacy rate is less than half of that of males. Only 28 percent of females know how to read and write compared to 60 percent of males.
- Women tend to enroll in more secretarial and administrative courses, composing 60 percent of students in those fields. Agriculture and technical training, however, are more male-dominated, reflecting gender stereotypes and the type of chores assigned to girls and boys.
- In a study done by the UNGEI, 66 percent of girls reported physical, sexual, or psychological violence and abuse and about a quarter of those abuses were conducted in schools. Young girls often face sexual abuse from older men, leading to unwanted pregnancies. In many cases, poverty pushes girls to exchange sex for money, food, or school supplies. As a result, their sexual activity starts earlier, along with their exposure to deadly threats of HIV and AIDS.
- Teen pregnancies prove to be a major reason for girls dropping out of school early. From 30 to 40 percent of girls are pregnant before they turn 18 years old. As a result, many girls leave school to take care of their child and household, taking night classes instead. Although these classes allow them to continue schooling, girls often have to travel long distances to attend class, putting themselves in danger. The burden of taking care of a child, working and performing household chores can be overbearing and may leave little time for school. Teen pregnancies also put girls’ lives at risk as girls between 15 and 19 years are four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related issues than women over 20.
- Child marriages are another roadblock to education. Almost half of the girls in Mozambique are married before they turn 18 and around 15 percent are married before they turn 15. As a result, girls must drop out of school to stay home or work to take care of their families. Mozambique is working harder to enforce the legal age of marriage (18 years) through the initiation of the National Strategy for the Prevention and Combating of Early Marriage in 2016. The strategy serves to empower young women and target vulnerable teens.
These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Mozambique show that great strides in education and gender equality have been made in the country, but more work needs to be done. Teen pregnancies and marriages pose a major threat to girls’ education, keeping them in the cycle of poverty and oppression. Improvements to education allow them to break free of that cycle and pursue better lives for them and for their communities.
– Massarath Fatima