10 Facts About Mozambique Refugees
Mozambique, on the southeast coast of Africa, gained independence from Portugal in 1975. Conflict marred much of the country’s recent history, first during a protracted liberation struggle, followed by a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992. Tension between the ruling Frelimo party and its opposition, the former rebel movement Renamo, has remained high. Clashes between government forces and armed elements of Renamo contribute to the flow of refugees from Mozambique to neighboring countries.

Here are 10 facts about Mozambique refugees:

  1. Mozambique has a history of a massive displacement of people. By 1992, 1.5 million Mozambicans fled the country due to the civil war, representing 10% of the population at that time.
  2. Mozambicans fled to neighboring Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Most of the refugees returned to Mozambique after the end of the war in 1992.
  3. Recently there has been an increase in the number of people fleeing Mozambique. Since 2015, 12,000 Mozambicans have fled from violence in their communities due to the longstanding conflict between Frelimo and Renamo. Tensions between the two parties have risen in the run-up to the 2014 Presidential election, and have only continued to escalate since then.
  4. Mozambicans are fleeing several forms of political violence reportedly perpetrated by government and opposition forces. A recent Freedom House report shows that Mozambicans are fleeing due to the perception that government and opposition forces are targeting them. This includes killings, assaults and the burning of homes, intended to create fear and punish sympathizers.
  5. For many Mozambique refugees, Kapise village in Malawi is the first port of call. At the peak of the current refugee crisis in March 2016, the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) recorded 250 people crossing the border from Mozambique to Kapise village every day. At this time, the makeshift camp at Kapise housed 6,000 Mozambicans in conditions that Doctors Without Borders classified as well below minimum humanitarian standards. The refugees have to compete for scarce resources with the 150 Malawian families already living in the village. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and Doctors Without Borders provided essential services in Kapise, such as water boreholes, food and healthcare. This has helped improve life in Kapise but conditions remain tough.
  6. In March 2016, Malawi reopened the Luwani Refugee Camp to house the influx of Mozambicans. Luwani Refugee Camp previously housed Mozambique refugees from 1977 to 1992 during the civil war and was finally closed in 2007. The Malawian government authorized UNHCR to reopen Luwani Camp and move Mozambique refugees there from Kapise village. Refugees have access to better facilities and services including healthcare, education, sanitation, security and self-sustaining activities like agriculture.
  7. Mozambique refugees are not the only Africans seeking asylum in Malawi. Dzaleka camp in Malawi is already hosting some 25,000 refugees from other African regions including the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region.
  8. Some 3,000 Mozambicans also fled to Zimbabwe in 2015 and 2016. Many of the refugees that fled to Zimbabwe are living in makeshift camps and face severe food shortages. WFP classifies Zimbabwe as a low-income food-deficit country with 30% of the rural poor considered “food poor.” Zimbabwe and Malawi are both currently suffering the effects of a prolonged El Niño-induced drought. Mozambique refugees thus place an additional burden on already limited resources in these countries.
  9. Mozambique refugees in Malawi and Zimbabwe are largely dependent on food assistance from the WFP. The WFP works to achieve and maintain food security among refugees in the region through monthly food distributions in refugee camps. The WFP, however, has had to cut food rations since 2014 due to funding shortages.
  10. Mozambique itself is a destination for other African refugees. Mozambique currently hosts some 15,000 refugees originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Somalia. The majority of these people live in Maratane camp in the north of the country.

Frelimo and Renamo have engaged in mediated peace talks since mid-2016 and a ceasefire agreement was reached over Christmas and later extended to March 2017, which provides hope for a resolution to the instability in the country.

Helena Jacobs

Photo: Flickr

Myths in Mozambique
Along the Indian Ocean lies a southeastern African country called Mozambique. At nearly 800,000 square kilometers, the country is almost twice the size of California. With this size comes great diversities of habitat and life. Many of the country’s 5,500 plant, 220 mammal and 690 bird species live nowhere else in the world.

Yet despite its richness in resources and biodiversity, Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world. Of the over 25 million people who reside in Mozambique, nearly 60 percent make less than $1.25 per day. The country also faces education challenges, with an adult literacy rate of just over 50 percent.

Unfortunately, one of Mozambique’s worst problems is the prevalence of HIV. Within the country’s borders, nearly 1.5 million people are estimated to live with HIV. Over 100,000 of those affected are believed to be under the age of 15.

These staggering numbers are largely the result of misinformation, gray areas and health myths about proper medical treatment and disease prevention. Clearly, the health myths in Mozambique need to be addressed with public health education. In that interest, many organizations have implemented innovative medical and education programs.

In October 2015, UNICEF launched a text-messaging-based program called SMS BIZ to confront health myths in Mozambique. This program was created to provide people aged 10 to 24 with reproductive health counseling services.

By allowing young adults to ask questions, talk about what is happening in their communities and gain critical information, SMS BIZ hopes to create educated communities armed with facts that allow them to reduce the occurrence of HIV in Mozambique.

By offering weekly discussion questions, SMS BIZ can assess the effectiveness of health services in specific communities. When subscribers answer a discussion question, SMS BIZ collects data regarding their gender, age and area. If surveys reveal that a community lacks knowledge about a specific reproductive health or HIV prevention issue, UNICEF can target the community and help bridge the knowledge gap with constructive feedback.

Services such as SMS BIZ by UNICEF are critical in dispelling health myths in Mozambique. Unwanted pregnancies and HIV contraction often occur when people lack education about reproductive health. Fortunately, over 41,000 people in Mozambique are subscribed to SMS BIZ, and more are joining every day.

Weston Northrop

Photo: Flickr

HIV in MozambiqueDoctors Without Borders (DWB) is an international organization that works to improve global health conditions. One of their current missions is fighting HIV in the sub-Saharan African nation of Mozambique. In Mozambique, one in ten adults is estimated to be HIV positive. DWB is focusing its efforts on increasing treatment and reducing the spread of the disease for sex workers and truck drivers — two demographics that are particularly at risk for infection. Their highway corridor project is estimated to reach and positively impact 3,800 sex workers and 4,500 truck drivers.

In the port city of Beira, cargo trucks are continuously moving through docks, loading and unloading cargo. The cargo is then transported to many areas of central and southern Africa. This highway corridor used for cargo transportation is also at risk for spreading HIV. DWB offers weekly HIV testing and counseling for truck drivers along the highway as far as the border of Malawi. Additionally, the organization is responsible for distributing free condoms at truck stops.

The organization has also implemented several strategies for sex workers, who are ten times more likely to be HIV positive than the general population.

Most strategies fighting HIV in Mozambique focus on educating these workers and increasing access to HIV prevention and treatment. Another important tactic includes distributing free condoms to women who engage in sex work. DWB also encourages sex workers to get tested for HIV and even provides on the spot testing in Beira.

If a woman’s test result is negative, she is offered the option to join a program called PrEp, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. In this program, patients receive an anti-AIDS drug that aims to block the virus in women who face a high risk of infection. Although PrEP is relatively new for fighting HIV in Mozambique, it has been shown to significantly reduce one’s chance of infection.

If tests results come back positive, women are referred to a clinic for further treatment. They also have a chance to talk with DWB’s “peer educators,” who are current or former sex workers employed by DWB to speak publicly about HIV prevention and treatment. Women feel comfortable talking to them because they do not make them feel ashamed of their work and all information discussed is kept confidential.

Hearing HIV discussed in public settings greatly reduces the shame and discrimination that is often associated with the disease. In 2010, Mozambique experienced a 58 percent increase in the number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment for HIV. This does not reflect an increase in the number of people infected, but rather an increase in willingness to be tested and receive treatment.

To increase access to treatment, DWB employs people to speak publicly about their own experiences in order to reduce shame surrounding the issue, which is a key step in fighting HIV in Mozambique. The organization also offers a training program for nurses that will allow them to be able to prescribe antiretroviral treatments for patients. Not only does this increase access to treatment, but it also creates jobs and more self-sufficient communities.

Both sex works and truckers in Mozambique often engage in unsafe sex practices that make them vulnerable to HIV infection and transmission during their travels. Through the numerous initiatives mentioned above, DWB is working to improve the quality of life for these two groups as well as for all HIV patients.

Nathaniel Siegel

Photo: Flickr

Fighting TrachomaFighting trachoma can be a dicy and delicate task. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the trachoma epidemic is sweeping 51 countries and impacting the vision of about 2.2 million people globally.

Trachoma is an infection of the eyes that originates from the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. The infection is most prevalent in low-income, rural areas of Africa, Asia, Central America and South America where people often lack adequate sanitation facilities and clean water.

Fighting trachoma matters in the fight against global poverty for a variety of reasons. Children suffering from the disease are often unable to continue studying or working due to the symptoms of the illness, which include intolerable pain and constant itching. Older family members experiencing the same symptoms may struggle to support and care for their families and be unable to continue in their lines of work. Eventually, if left untreated, the infection will cause permanent blindness which significantly impacts the livelihoods of its victims.

While trachoma is easily spread, it is both preventable and treatable. The case of ENVISION in Mozambique demonstrates the potential impact prevention and treatment measures can have in the spread of this disease.

The WHO recommends the combination of preventative measures and treatment through the SAFE strategy (Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial-cleanliness and Environmental improvement). Mozambique’s government, with the help of USAID’s Neglected Tropical Diseases Program, launched ENVISION in 2012 and aims to end trachoma in Mozambique by 2020. While this timeline may seem ambitious, there have already been significant signs of improvement in Mozambique.

According to USAID, in 2013, ENVISION distributed and successfully administered the antibiotic Zithromax in the 10 districts of Niassa, the most remote province of Mozambique. Since then, rates of trachoma in Niassa have dropped to below five percent. This is low enough to end the mass drug administrations in the area.

ENVISION leaders are also collaborating with NGOs working in the areas of sanitation, water and hygiene to aid in establishing preventative measures. While trachoma has yet to be completely eradicated, the leaders behind the ENVISION initiative have made great progress in fighting trachoma in just five years.

Jordan Rose Little
Photo: Flickr

According to UNICEF data in 2014, child marriage in Mozambique is not uncommon: 48 percent of women in Mozambique aged 20 to 24 married before they were 18 years old; 14 percent of them were married by age 15.

Although the percentage of child brides in Mozambique has declined from 56.6 percent in 1997, Girls Not Brides reports that “population growth has meant that the actual number of married girls has increased.”

To address this issue, Mozambique has launched a new, multi-organization plan to end child marriage, led by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Affairs. According to Girls Not Brides, one of the most important pillars in this new plan is reforming the legal framework surrounding child marriage. Although child marriage is officially illegal, it is not punishable by law, making its illegal status more of a symbol than a tool and failing to hinder the practice.

The plan also involves increasing girls’ access to education and creating a social mobilization campaign, as well as increasing sexual and reproductive health services to young women already in marriages. This education is vital, as UNICEF reports that women married young are likely to become pregnant shortly after, and that these young mothers have higher rates of maternal mortality; their children are also more likely to be underweight, underdeveloped and more likely to die young.

One of the biggest issues Mozambique still has to overcome is ending poverty. Often times, young girls are married off for economic reasons—their parents get money from the husband’s family, known as the “bride price,” and the poor families of these girls now have one less mouth to feed. According to Girls Not Brides, Mozambique requires continued outside support; though there are renewed efforts to end child marriage in Mozambique, it will be an uphill battle.

Emily Milakovic

Photo: U.N. Multimedia

Mozambique entrepreneurs have created the award-winning social enterprise Mozambikes builds low-cost bicycles to improve the livelihoods of thousands of people in Mozambique. Affordable and efficient bicycle transportation can greatly impact the pace of development in a country with 54 percent of citizens living below the poverty line, especially in rural areas.

In addition to bringing economic opportunities, Mozambikes is committed to improving the lives of 50,000 Mozambicans by 2018. The company and affiliated non-profit Mozambikes Social Development intends to reach this goal through the sale and donation of affordable branded bicycles.

Mozambikes’ unique branding strategy has created three avenues of distribution. The first allows customers to brand and purchase bicycles for their own business needs, such as employee incentive programs. Other customers choose to brand bicycles sold to low-income markets.

Branding customers allow Mozambikes to sell the bicycles at a subsidized rate. For advertisers, it is an opportunity to tap into remote rural markets. Bicycles can also be donated through Mozambikes Social Development for about $100.

These bicycles are purchased at cost from Mozambikes and donated to those who still cannot afford a bicycle. Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Lauren Thomas said in an article published on The Guardian, “A bicycle may seem like such a small item to many, but it is quite literally life-changing in rural Africa.” Mozambique_entrepreneurs

The bicycles are specifically designed for use on the bumpy roads in Mozambique with large luggage racks for transporting goods. The design also accommodates traditional skirts with a diagonal crossbar. Local technicians assemble the bicycles and after-market maintenance has created a demand for more bicycle technicians.

In comparison with regional competitors, Mozambikes’ product is better quality and more affordable. The company hopes to improve the bicycle industry of Mozambique through these innovations.

Bicycles can have a significant impact in low-income communities and aid development. In Mozambique, two-thirds of people walk more than an hour to the closest health center. Bicycles provide increased access to education, health care and are a clean energy solution.

In five years, Mozambikes has sold or donated over 7,000 bicycles and plans to increase that number to 125,000 by 2020. In rural Africa, a bicycle is generally considered a household items aiding not only individuals but also entire families.

It is estimated that 70 percent of Mozambicans rely on income from what they can produce, largely through subsistence farming. Transportation is essential in this informal economy. Fetching water, maintaining crops and getting products to market are all made easier with access to bicycles.

As a Mozambique business, Mozambikes employs about 12 workers and pay salaries above minimum wage. The company also strives to empower women, provide training for bike technicians, and educate cyclists about safety.

Mozambikes hopes to benefit a million Mozambicans through low-cost, efficient transportation. Each bicycle improves another Mozambican’s livelihood.

Thomas affirms the company’s long-term vision: “Some people come and go, but we are really committed to making this an ongoing, sustainable business, and there is still so much more we can do.”

Cara Kuhlman

Sources: The Guardian, How We Made It In Africa, Mail & Guardian, Mozambikes, Mozambikes YouTube Channel
Photo: Wikimedia, Flickr

World Bank Supports Mozambique to Improve Financial ServicesOn Sept. 29, 2015, the Government of Mozambique (GoM)’s Financial Sector Development Strategy got the support of a U.S. $25 million credit from the World Bank.

Funneled through the World Bank Programmatic Financial Sector Development Policy Operation (DPO), this support aims at promoting greater financial inclusion and market stability in Mozambique, which also helps develop business and alleviate poverty.

In order to reinforce financial stability, the World Bank Programmatic Financial Sector Development Policy Operation (DPO) supports improvements in the bank’s regulations and supervision, safety net and crisis preparedness frameworks.

The operation supports reforms to promote financial inclusion by focusing on improving credit reporting systems, branchless banking and mobile banking, consumer protection, payment systems and insolvency frameworks

Moreover, by supporting reforms in capital markets and expanding the insurance and pension coverage, the operation helps promote long-term financial markets.

According to the World Bank, if effectively regulated and supervised, improved financial services would spur economic growth, reduce income inequality and help lift households out of poverty.

Through the funding program, DPO directly supports the GoM’s Financial Sector Development Strategy to broaden financial inclusion, enhance banking regulation and supervision, strengthen the banking safety net and crisis management framework and improve government securities markets.

“This DPO series has three main objectives: increase financial inclusion, improve financial stability, and strengthen long term financial markets in Mozambique,” said Mark R. Lundell, World Bank country director for Mozambique.

Mazen Bouri, the World Bank co-Task team leader for the DPO, said, “The GoM recognizes the importance of financial services development to reduce poverty and improve the business environment.”

In line with the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Strategy for Mozambique (2012-2015), this program is dedicated to the twin goals of eradicating absolute poverty and improving shared prosperity in the world.

Shengyu Wang

Sources: World Bank 1, World Bank 2, World Bank 3, First Initiative
Photo: Pixabay

FAO in Mozambique
In Mozambique, 95 percent of the country’s agricultural production comes from farmers owning small pieces of land. Previously these farms were for subsistence, but the recent U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization initiative has helped to improve post-harvest practices enabling farmers to sell their crops for profits.

Because the vast majority of farms in Mozambique are small-scale subsistence farms, the communities relying on them are more vulnerable to the shocks of events such as conflict and climatic change. In addition, because yields are low, these farms barely cover subsistence needs, let alone enable families to save any income for the future.

One-third of the Mozambique population is chronically food-insecure. Half a million children are reported as being undernourished and 43 percent of children under five are considered malnourished.

Issues contributing to the lack of food security in Mozambique include a lack of diet diversity, poor agricultural yields and high rates of HIV infection impacting worker productivity, thus affecting agricultural efficiency and production.

It should be no surprise then, that with the high levels of food insecurity and HIV infection in Mozambique, poverty is widespread. The country ranks 178 out of 187 on the UNDP Human Development Index. Mozambique is receiving significant amounts of aid from the U.N.; the country is also a U.N.

“Delivering as One” country, meaning that the country is part of a pilot initiative to improve the partnership between the U.N. and the national government.

As part of Mozambique’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, the country along with the U.N. are working to help farmers absorb less of a loss with regards to climatic shocks and protracted natural disasters.

One way to help farmers is to increase the length of time crops are able to be kept, eaten, and sold. The U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is teaching farmers how to store crops for maximum post-harvest storage. With the present technology, farmers lose an average of 30 percent of their harvest.

Currently, farmers sell the bulk of their crops immediately after the harvest. This is because farms in Mozambique often lack storage facilities to keep crops for a later sale, during which they could have a later price. By being able to control when crops are sold, farmers have greater potential to earn an income.

The FAO in Mozambique is teaching farmers about various post-harvest techniques; specifically, the FAO is training artisans in the construction of Gorongosa silos, which are durable, prevent crops from pests, and utilize locally developed technology. The Gorongosa silo is made from clay and mud. With proper care, it can last for twenty years.

This silo is a more valuable option than the traditional silos used in Mozambique, which offer little to no protection from pests or the elements. The Gorongosa silo keeps crops viable for ten months post-harvest, which gives more control to the farmers over their sales and reduces the need for chemical treatments.

This FAO initiative began in 2013 and intends to be a five-year project. Since its inception, 260 artisans have been trained in Gorongosa silo making in fifteen districts throughout Mozambique. Ultimately, the project hopes to train 20,000 farmers in the usage of Gorongosa silos and build 10,000 silos.

This initiative, in conjunction with other strategies to reduce HIV/AIDS in the region and promote economic growth, offers much to improve the livelihoods of those in Mozambique. With greater crop volume post-harvest, farmers can earn more of an income and reduce food insecurity for their families.

Priscilla McCelvey

Sources: FAO, U.N., World Food Programme

Photo: Flickr

Countries around the world have been revamping their anti-poverty efforts in preparation for the establishment of new Sustainable Development Goals in September. Although Ireland has not yet met its target of allocating 0.7% of Gross National Product, or GNP, to overseas development aid, it is making improvements.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan recently stated his confidence in Ireland’s aid program. In fact, at the launch of the Irish Aid annual report for 2014, he described the program as one of the most effective in the world during tough economic years. He believes that the 0.7 percent target will soon be reached.

The report revealed that Ireland provided more than 85 million Euros in humanitarian assistance and 269 tons of critical humanitarian supplies like blankets and tents in 2014. Flanagan boasted of the Irish people’s engagement with development assistance, saying that they take pride in the collective Irish effort.

According to Flanagan, Ireland’s overseas aid program is lifting millions of people out of poverty and hunger. In order to evidence this claim, he broke down the program’s contributions to its Key Partner Countries—Ethiopia and Mozambique.

Flanagan pointed out that the program has worked to reduce the number of mothers dying during childbirth. In Ethiopia specifically, support for maternal health services for poor women contributed to a 70 percent reduction in deaths during childbirth.

In terms of education, support for training and recruiting teachers has helped to increase the number of girls enrolled in school. In fact, in Mozambique, the development program’s assistance contributed to a nine percent increase in the enrollment of girls in school.

Minister of State for Development Seán Sherlock has pointed out that 2014 was a year of unprecedented levels of humanitarian crises worldwide. He stressed the effectiveness and efficiency of Ireland’s response to such crises, and maintained a confident, yet realistic outlook on the program’s ability to respond similarly in the future.

As just one example, Sherlock claims to have personally witnessed the impact of roughly 18 million Euros in funding provided to Sierra Leone and Liberia during the Ebola crisis. This is the type of crisis that no one could possibly have planned for, and yet Ireland rose to the occasion, paving the way for other contributors during crisis.

Sherlock provided additional evidence for the effectiveness of the Irish Aid program by pointing to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s, or OECD, review. According to Sherlock, the OECD concluded—through thorough assessment—that the Irish Aid program was one of the most effective of its kind worldwide.

Sherlock echoed Flanagan’s re-commitment to reaching the 0.7 percent target, but he confessed candidly that this goal will not be reached in 2015. To clarify, this does not mean that Ireland is not on the right track, or that it has not carried its weight thus far in terms of the anti-poverty and sustainable development effort.

Both Sherlock and Flanagan have reassured the general public that with time, Ireland will proudly allocate 0.7 percent or more of GNP to overseas development aid. Until that time comes, the Irish Aid program will continue to combat poverty and improve the lives of the world’s most suffering people.

Sarah Bernard

Sources: Irish Times, Irish Mirror, Irish Examiner
Photo: Flickr

While traveling through rural Mozambique, founders of Mozambikes Lauren Thomas and Rui Mesquita were disturbed by the region’s lack of transportation. Locals had to walk miles in harsh heat to reach basic necessities like water, food, healthcare, education and jobs.

50 percent of people in Mozambique live below the poverty line and mortality rates are highly exacerbated by lack of transportation.

Lauren Thomas and Rui Mesquita set out to solve this issue with Mozambikes, a for-profit social interest company that sells bicycles to locals at highly subsidized prices.

“It began as an idea, though we knew it had the potential to have a tremendous impact on the lives of rural Mozambicans. However, the first step was to import a container of bicycles and test the market. Given the risk implicit at such an early stage, Mozambikes started entirely with shareholder funding,” explains founder Lauren Thomas, a former New York City investment banker, to How We Made it In Africa.

It is a sustainable business model. Advertisers buy ad space on the bicycles, exposing a relatively secluded consumer base to brands or ideas that these rural Mozambicans would not otherwise see. The advertisements highly subsidize the price of the bicycles for the rural residents of Mozambique.

Companies can also purchase the bicycles directly, paint on their advertisements and logos, then sell them to local residents at lower prices as “promotional marketing” or “corporate social responsibility” explains How We Made it In Africa.

“Our most successful marketing has been our 7,000 bicycles on the roads in the country. When a company sees Mozambikes branded with another organisation, they want to know – who made those? Therefore, word of mouth has been very effective in getting sales over the last few years, now that we have a presence in the market. Mozambique is still a traditional market and we have also been successful with aggressive direct marketing – emails and phone calls to arrange meetings with target clients,” says Thomas.

Mozambikes has the potential to stimulate the local economy in a variety of ways. Bikes do not only open the door to health-related treatment options, education and more, but bicycles also enable Mozambicans to reach their jobs, and perhaps even obtain better jobs.

And the bikes are assembled by local Mozambiquians, generating jobs and income for residents. Locals also assemble bike accessories like accompanying trailers and bike ambulances.

“Our first donation event gave bicycles to 20 rural women in southern Mozambique. When we arrived, they began to clap and sing, and when they received the bicycles they were crying and singing. A bicycle may seem like such a small item to many, but it is quite literally life-changing in rural Africa. It means access to clean water. It means mothers can bring their babies to the clinic when they are sick. It means that they can return home from their farming plots in time to make their children dinner at night,” explains Thomas.

Margaret Anderson

Sources: Mozambikes, How We Made It In Africa, Inclusive Business Hub