In Mozambique, almost one in two children under the age of five is nutritionally deficient. Poor nutrition contributes to high rates of childhood mortality. Those who are nutritionally deficient are more susceptible to diseases, which further complicates the situation.

Looking at the macro and micro levels of nutrient deficiency, one can see how malnutrition in Mozambique is affecting the country. At the macro level, 44 percent of all children under the age of five are stunted due to chronic illness and poor diet with 18 percent of all children categorized as underweight. Wasting, or acute malnutrition, affects four percent of the adolescent population and is a major concern for Mozambique.

On the micro level, Iron, Iodine and Vitamin A deficiencies are among the main perpetrators. Iron deficiency affects 75 percent of the children who grow anemic and are apathetic, anorexic and energy-less. Iodine deficiency has mental and physical repercussions. Goiter is a condition that is caused by iodine deficiency and affects 15 percent of children between the ages of six and 12 in Mozambique. Iodized salt usage has increased in recent years, however, to combat this trend.

Vitamin A deficiency weakens the body’s immunity against infections. This is a serious side effect and affects the majority of children in Mozambique, at a rate of 69 percent of children. It also affects 11 percent of mothers, who find it hard to breastfeed their children because they are also undernourished.

“It is not just about food,” says Maaike Arts, a nutrition expert at the UNICEF organization in Mozambique. “It is about health, hygiene and sanitation. Diarrhea and worms affect the child’s uptake of nutrients; malaria reduces the levels of iron in the blood. In Mozambique, many women marry and get pregnant as teenagers. There is a significant correlation between mother’s age and the nutritional status of the children.”

UNICEF has been forging their way through the thick of Mozambican hunger with a three-focus attack. UNICEF is scaling up the support of the Basic Nutrition Package in health facilities, implementing community-based nutrition interventions and feeding malnourished children. The WHO is also joining the fight with a plan that has seven individual strategies.

UNICEF’s Basic Nutrition Package aims to prevent children from becoming malnourished in the first place by providing “health units” to the provinces in Mozambique. Activities include the community coming together and learning about good nutrition practices and how to correctly feed the young. These activities focus on the empowerment of mothers, families and communities.

The WHO has created an in-depth plan that includes the following focus areas:

· Activities with impact on teenagers’ nutrition status strengthened
· Interventions with impact on productive, lactating and pregnant women’s health and nutrition strengthened
· Child-oriented nutrition activities in the first two years of birth strengthened
· Household-oriented activities to improve high nutrition food access and utilization strengthened
· Human Resources capacity in nutrition strengthened
· Strengthen national capacity for advocacy, coordination, management and progressive implementation of the Multi-Sectorial Action Plan for Chronic Malnutrition Reduction
· Food and nutrition control system strengthened

Strengthen is the key work in the WHO’s plan. They want Mozambique to gain the capability to provide for itself. The ultimate goal is to reduce chronic malnutrition to 20 perccent by 2020.

With the help of UNICEF and WHO providing the basic needs of nourishment and sustainability, malnutrition in Mozambique can begin to see its downfall. These organizations have studied the land and the people and have determined what is needed in order for this country to get up and running on its own.

– Erik Nelson

Photo: Lists10

In 2000, leaders of Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique joined together to enhance national economic development objectives in the economically depressed regions of the three countries. Followed by a signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in 2003, the “Growth Triangle,” as it has been commonly referred to, was formalized and finalized in late 2014.

The objective of the Zambia/Malawi/Mozambique Growth Triangle (ZMMGT) is to incorporate the border areas encompassing eastern provinces in Zambia, the Tete province in Mozambique and the central and northern regions of Malawi. Representatives originally hoped to harness the natural resources of the area and, through infrastructure improvement, create jobs with the goal of eliminating poverty.

According to a 2014 United Nations report covering economic development in Africa, economic activities and production as well as social sectors have increased steadily between 2003 and 2011.

The three countries banning together create an interesting investment. Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique are all member states of both the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), two key trade regional economic bodies. Therefore, investors in these three countries enjoy preferential market access to a bigger, tripartite regional market of just over 600 million people, ranging from tip of South Africa in the south, to the northern tip of Egypt in the north.

The African Business Review states that “perhaps the most important business reform that the ZMMGT is set to initiate will be the simplification of border relations…which will [remove] any limits placed on conducting cross-border commercial activity…The immediate effect of this will be the streamlining of business transactions across the triangle.”

A railway line that spans the three countries is also due to be completed and will facilitate the transport of goods across Zambia and Malawi, to the port of Nacala in Mozambique.

Investment and infrastructure are key concepts for any country to grow. Three African countries agreeing to enhance the economy is a positive sign of growth in Africa overall.

– Alaina Grote

Sources: African Business Review, Africa Strictly Business, UNCTAD
Photo: Flickr

USAIDOver the years, The United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, has supplied 46 million people with food and protected 1.5 million children from preventable diseases. They hold 87 missions around the world, and are partnered with 3,500 companies and organizations. However, they only use one percent of the federal budget. Regardless of the minimal support from the government, USAID continues to create better living conditions for the world’s poor. Four recent developments are taking place in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Manila and Mozambique.

USAID has funded $62 million on Tetra Tech, a company focused on engineering and program management. Tetra Tech will focus on helping to develop the government system in Afghanistan. According to Business Wire, the company will “strengthen the linkages between the central government and provincial levels for strategic planning, budgeting and service delivery.” With this investment, the state will better develop communication to help citizens.

In Nigeria, USAID is helping farmers increase cocoa production to compensate for the fall in oil prices. Cocoa is a key export for Nigeria, and with the education to grow more effectively, it will support and diversify the economy. AllAfrica has recognized Mathew Burton, Director of Economic Growth and Environment for USAID, who believes “there are obviously opportunities for Nigeria to explore in the development of her cocoa sector.” With the search for investors to further help boost production, this can be a tremendous help for Nigeria’s economy and development.

After the multiple natural disasters the Philippines has endured, USAID has announced a partnership with the “Education Governance Effectiveness Project, which will help elementary public schools in the target provinces get back on track towards improving learning outcomes.” The mission is focused on helping students in grade school to help implement a solid learning foundation for their future education. Since education correlates to the rate of poverty, this will be a stepping stone for the country’s further development.

Feed the Future is the U.S. government’s initiative to end world hunger. USAID is assisting in helping farmers in Mozambique use “more productive agriculture technologies, improving nutrition and health, and connecting farmers to markets.” This initiative not only helps decrease starvation, but also increase the economy by selling goods in markets. USAID has educated farmers on proper agricultural techniques and partnered with the Government of Mozambique.

The progress USAID has made gives more reason to why they deserve better funding from the government. With consistent efforts to make better living conditions for the world’s poor, they are a beacon of hope to ending world poverty. The more USAID works to create plans across the globe, the less we will see famine and disease in poor countries.

– Kimberly Quitzon

Sources: USAID 1, USAID 2, Business Wire, All Africa, Feed The Future
Photo: Flickr

Mozambique HungerA country ravaged by war, Mozambique has many societal issues that need to be dealt with, and one of the stricken country’s biggest shortcomings is food. With 24.5 million inhabitants, one-third are chronically food-insecure with half of a million children ages six to 23 months being undernourished.

Underlying causes include inadequate nutritional intake due to poor diet diversity, low meal frequency, poor breastfeeding practices, high levels of disease and teenage pregnancy. The high incidence of HIV infection further aggravates the malnutrition that people suffer.

The U.N., the World Food Programme and The Hunger Project have all come together to help fight hunger in Mozambique. Mozambique is a “Delivering as One” country meaning that all U.N. agencies, if logistically capable, contribute toward a U.N. Development Assistance Framework. The UNDAF and the WFP have aligned priorities in Mozambique, and Mozambique is benefiting from it.

The WFP has two distinct programs that are set to run this year: the Country Program, or CP, and the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation, or PRRO.

CP pursues the WFP’s transition from food aid to food assistance, supporting and enhancing government programs to constitute sustainable, national solutions to food insecurity through prevention, protection and promotion. The program attempts to stimulate local economies using innovative delivery methods of payment such as cash, vouchers and mobile phone transfers.

The five main components of the CP are school meals, social protection, nutrition, risk reduction and market access.

WFP’s other program dedicated to fighting hunger in Mozambique, PRRO, provides food assistance in support of response and early recovery activities, targeting the disaster-affected as well as displaced persons who have sought refuge in Mozambique. CP is a program centered on sustainability and growth while PRRO is centered on disaster relief due to the surrounding circumstances of the location of Mozambique. The key approaches of the PRRO are relief activities (sudden onset emergency), early recovery activities (post-relief assistance) and capacity development.

WFP and the U.N. aren’t the only ones that are fighting the hunger in Mozambique; The Hunger Project is also on the front line. THP works to build sustainable community-based programs using their Epicenter Strategy. An epicenter is a dynamic center of community mobilization and action, as well as an actual facility built by community members. Epicenters bring together 15,000-20,000 people from rural villages and give the groups a voice that has more influence than if they did not band together.

In Mozambique, there are three epicenters. These epicenters serve a population of about 22,200 partners in 10 villages. With the epicenters functioning at full capacity, the local areas will see an increase in economic sustainability and, therefore, more food security.

The U.N., the World Food Programme and The Hunger Project have all been aiding Mozambique for the past decade. Together these organizations have been providing beneficial practices spanning from immediate emergency relief to sustainability to community building programs.

– Erik Nelson

Sources: The Hunger Project, World Food Porgramme

Photo: Flickr

Every year, the Social Progress Imperative comes out with an index that measures how individual countries perform in basic human needs, foundations of well-being, and opportunity. One subset of the foundations of well-being category is health and wellness. This subset takes into account life expectancy, non-communicable disease deaths between the ages of 30 and 70, obesity, outdoor air pollution attributed deaths and suicide rates. Below is a list of the world’s ten most unhealthy countries in the world, based on this subset.

10. Bulgaria, 60.63

Bulgaria is in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The country has a high mortality rate from cardiovascular disease. Additionally, Bulgaria has the worst air quality in Europe, with some of the highest concentrations of particulate matter, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide.

9. Mozambique, 60.40

Mozambique’s main health problems are to due with high mortality rates due to drought, poverty and HIV/AIDS, as well as a lack of experienced health workers in the country. The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to decimate portions of the population in the country. In addition, capacity building and risk reduction expertise are both low.

8. Swaziland, 60.29

Located in southern Africa, Swaziland has an extremely high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, reaching over 26 percent. Swaziland needs the most improvement in life expectancy and non-communicable disease deaths between 30 and 70.

7. Latvia, 59.97

Latvia, too, has problems with air quality that cause long-term health problems. Latvia also needs to address substance abuse problems such as alcohol and tobacco, which both contribute to ill health in the country at a disproportional rate.

6. Armenia, 59.36

Armenia’s health issues revolve around a broken, extremely expensive health care system that cannot meet the burden of care. With economic downturn, basic medicines and doctor visits can become too expensive.

5. Moldova, 58.00

Moldova is currently experiencing negative population growth. The two main causes of death are heart disease and cancer. Moldova has high rates of substance abuse-related deaths, like alcohol and tobacco. Tuberculosis, especially multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, is rapidly becoming a major health concern in the country.

4. Belarus, 56.56

The main areas that need improvement in Belarus are non-communicable diseases and suicide rates. The country, located in Eastern Europe, is also relatively polluted, which can cause long-term ill-health.

3. Russia, 51.99

Russia needs improvement in almost all categories, including life expectancy, non-communicable diseases, air pollution and suicide rates. Additionally, Russia experiences high rates of mortality due to smoking for both men and women. HIV/AIDS is also becoming more of a concern.

2. Ukraine, 51.82

Ukraine, located in Eastern Europe, has similar problems as its neighbors, mainly bad air quality, high levels of tobacco and alcohol abuse and high suicide rates. Additionally, Ukrainians spend about 13 percent of their lives in ill-health, which is much higher than most of their neighbors. Ukraine also has the highest rate of infectious diseases in Europe.

1. Kazakhstan, 49.93

Kazakhstan, located in Central Asia, is ranked as the unhealthiest country in the world, according to the Social Progress Imperative. Kazakhstan needs dramatic improvement in life expectancy, deaths related to non-communicable diseases, air quality and suicide rates. HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis have become growing concerns; TB, especially, is of great concern because of drug-resistance.

Caitlin Huber

Sources: Social Progress Imperative, World Health Organization 1, World Health Organization 2, World Health Organization 3, World Health Organization 4, World Health Organization 5, New York Times, UNICEF, National Center for Biotechnology Information, Common Dreams, World Bank, University of Pittsburgh
Photo: Flickr

increase youth literacyAccording to UNESCO, “Illiteracy and poverty constitute a mutually reinforcing vicious cycle that is difficult to break.” Illiteracy reinforces poverty by precluding access to information. When people do not have the ability to read labels or technical manuals, they cannot develop the skills necessary to climb the socioeconomic ladder.

For a developing nation, a low literacy rate can be a major impediment to economic progress. The lack of a skilled work force prevents the development of a thriving economy. A 2012 study by the World Literacy Foundation estimated the economic cost of illiteracy in developing countries at over five billion dollars.

As the world continues to wage war on poverty, global education initiatives are winning key battles on the youth literacy front. In 2000, the U.N. established universal primary education as a Millennium Development Goal. While this ambitious goal has not yet been achieved, primary education enrollment in developing countries rose from 82 percent to 90 percent between 1999 and 2010. The gender gap in youth literacy continues to narrow, and the world youth literacy rate has improved markedly since 1990.

While there is still a long way to go in improving youth literacy in developing countries, these five countries are making huge strides.

  1. Nepal: The youth literacy rate in Nepal — a scant 49.6 percent in 1990 — reached 83 percent in 2010 and is projected to reach 88 percent by 2015. Educational opportunities in Nepal have expanded considerably over the last two decades, and Nepal’s net enrollment rate, or NER, in primary education rose from 91.9 percent in the 2008-2009 school year to 95.1 percent in 2011. The NER at the lower secondary level is rising even faster, climbing from 57.3 percent in 2008 to 70 percent in 2013. As of 2012, Nepal ranked as the 11th largest source of international students in the U.S.
  2. Bangladesh: The youth literacy rate in Bangladesh has climbed at a similar rate to that in Nepal. Recognizing education as an important means of reducing poverty, the Government of Bangladesh passed the Primary Education Compulsory Act in 1990, making primary education free and compulsory for all children up to Grade Five. Since then, the youth literacy rate has risen from 44.7 percent to 77 percent.
  3. Senegal: The youth literacy surge in Senegal is a fairly recent phenomenon. Senegal saw little improvement in its youth literacy rate from 1990 to 2000. However, since its 2001 constitutional referendum, Senegal has recorded significant achievements in access to education. Primary school enrollment rates increased from 69.8 percent in 2000 to 92.5 percent in 2009. Increased primary school enrollment has facilitated literacy improvement. The youth literacy rate in Senegal rose from 49.1 percent in 2000 to 69 percent in 2010, and is projected to reach 73.4 by 2015.
  4. Ethiopia: Ethiopia, Africa’s fastest-growing non-energy-driven economy, has made significant strides in youth literacy since the devastating famine of 1984. Ethiopia’s youth literacy rate rose from a mere 33.6 percent in 1990 to 49.9 percent in 2000, and it is projected to reach 69.3 percent by 2015. USAID has played a key role not only in improving the managing and planning of Ethiopia’s primary education system but also in improving access to education in remote areas. USAID, in conjunction with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, also developed Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement Developed. READ focuses on training teachers and improving reading comprehension and writing proficiency.
  5. Mozambique: In terms of primary education, Mozambique has made enormous progress since the 1992 resolution of its long and costly civil war. Educational opportunities have expanded rapidly in Mozambique since the mid-1990s, and enrollment in primary school has risen from 69 percent in 2003 to 100 percent. Mozambique’s youth literacy was just 61.9 percent in 2000, but that number has risen steadily and is expected to reach 77.8 in 2015. While Mozambique’s progress has been remarkable, continued progress is threatened by the recent resurgence of the RENAMO insurgency.

Parker Carroll

Sources: The Guardian, UNESCO 1, UNESCO 2, UNICEF 1, UNICEF 2, USAID
Photo: UNHCR

A steadily growing economy and an ample supply of natural resources make Mozambique a natural target for foreign investment. The southern African country is classified as low-income and remains one of the most under-developed nations in the world, but it manages to attract millions of dollars every year in foreign aid and is working to continue economic development and build its infrastructure.

In fact, improving infrastructure in Mozambique is the purpose for the more than $32 billion that the U.S. plans to invest in the country within the next several years. Increased and updated infrastructure in Mozambique’s natural resource industries — including the natural gas and coal industries — will help maintain the nation’s economic growth, which is expected to be eight percent or higher until at least 2019.

Infrastructure investments will also be made for transportation, as improvements are needed desperately for roads, railway systems and ports. These investments will come in addition to the more than $5 billion that the U.S. has invested in Mozambique over the past two years.

If used effectively, this aid could make Mozambique one of the biggest coal and natural gas producers in Africa and significantly grow its gross domestic product (GDP.) Recent discoveries of additional natural gas reserves in the country have already brought in over $1 billion for Mozambique.

Financial services company Deutsche Bank has praised Mozambique for its “ambitious policy agenda,” which has attracted investors. Massive infrastructure renovations and additions are by no means a small task, and proposing them was risky for the Mozambican government; if foreign aid did not present itself, the government would be making a promise it could not keep.

To put the $32 billion U.S. investment into perspective, Mozambique’s current GDP is estimated at $15 billion. Despite this massive cash influx, Mozambique has become less reliant on foreign aid over the past few years. The economic growth America’s investment is projected to incite should allow Mozambique to become less and less dependent on foreign aid in the years to come.

The U.S. is likely to see at least a partial return on investment, as Mozambican industries reinvigorated by improved infrastructure will produce more exports, allowing the country to trade with the U.S. in global markets. A healthy economy for Mozambique also puts capital in the hands of people who can use it to purchase American goods.

– Elise L. Riley ​
Sources: Macau Hub, World Bank, AllAfrica
Photo: Maca Hub

This past week, the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has refused to grant a second aid package to the government of Mozambique. These aid packages, also known as compacts, are given in the hope that the funds will allow the countries to build more infrastructure and combat national issues. The first compact of $506.9 million previously given to Mozambique was directed toward water supply, sanitation, road and agricultural improvements; however, many of these projects were delayed.

Because the conditions for a second aid package required that all projects funded by the first compact be completed, Mozambique was not eligible for more aid. The U.S. MCC did, however, contribute more funding to the current projects in Mozambique.

The first compact has supported Mozambique’s Farmer Income Support Project, Land Tenure Services Project, Rehabilitation of Roads Project, and Water and Sanitation project. The Farmer Income Support project aims to remove trees, provide support to increase crop yields and help farmers develop alternative sources of income. The Land Tenure project will address issues with land distribution laws and provide land-related services. The Rehabilitation of Roads project will attempt to improve markets by rehabilitating parts of the National Route 1, and the Water and Sanitation project will improve access to clean water supplies, especially in rural areas.

The government of Mozambique was taken aback by the rejection from the MCC; however, the country is also becoming less dependent upon foreign aid. In the past, foreign aid has been the center of the budget of the nation but in the future, Mozambique expects domestic resources to pay for 66.5 percent of the budget.

This increase in budget will allow an increase in education, health care, agriculture and rural development, the judicial system, security and more. The increase will also create new jobs, which will create a cycle of economic improvement.

Lienna Feleke-Eshete

Sources: All Africa, All Africa
Photo: The OGM

Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa
The World Bank estimates that more than 69 percent of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa lives on less than $2 per day, making it one of the poorest regions in the world. Though the region has experienced strong economic growth during the last two decades, poverty alleviation remains a pressing issue for African leaders.

The numbers appear promising. In its latest African Pulse analysis, the World Bank says that Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth should grow to more than 5 percent over the next three years. Foreign investment, rising commodity prices and global economic recovery will all contribute to the region’s rapid development.

Punam Chuhan-Pole, a lead economist in the Bank’s Africa department, said: “If properly harnessed to unleash their full potential, these trends hold the promise of more growth, much less poverty, and accelerating shared prosperity for African countries.”

But questions remain as to whether the region’s economic growth will help mitigate poverty. Statistically, economic growth does not automatically reduce poverty; many resource-rich countries, such as Gabon and Nigeria, have fared worse in terms of poverty reduction than neighboring nations with fewer resources. So, how can Sub-Saharan Africa convert economic gains into poverty reduction?

According the World Bank report, “Better governance will need to underpin efforts to make growth more poverty reducing.” Better governance means more efficient mineral and wealth management, agricultural development and methods for controlling urbanization. It must also include strategies to deal with the region’s growing income inequality, which likely stems from systemic government corruption and a weak middle class.

In 2010, six of the ten most inequitable countries in the world were in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Mozambique, the poorest 20 percent of the population earns 5 percent of total income while the richest 20 percent take home more than 50 percent. The World Bank points out that Mozambique’s oil and gas reserves will be huge economic drivers over the next few years, but, as it stands now, the neediest will benefit the least from any economic gains.

It is difficult to cast economic growth in a negative light. However, Sub-Saharan Africa’s recent expansion has done little to improve poverty and income inequality in the region. Without responsible government and a strong, participatory middle class, economic gains will continue to enrich a small segment of the population. The rest of the people will continue finding ways to subsist on $2 dollars a day.

Daniel Bonasso

Sources: World Bank, UNDP, Overseas Development Institute

This past January, Mozambique experienced massive flooding which took the lives of 70 people, left hundreds homeless and impoverished, washed away bridges, and left little soil to grow corps. This was the worst flooding in 13 years.

“I helplessly watched all my cattle disappear into the red sea of rushing floodwater while our family house was collapsing, leaving us with the clothes on our backs,” said Rofina Mathe, a mother who lives off sustenance farming. “Now we are wondering what the future has in store for us.”

The Climate Investment Funds’ Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) has provided funding to Mozambique in the amount of $91 million. PPCR is helping Mozambique prepare for future extreme weather. The hope is that the money will go towards enhancing infrastructure that will help the people of Mozambique be more prepared when a flood occurs.

PPCR efforts aim to upgrade 7 meteorological stations and 52 hydrological stations this year. By 2015, the number of stations should increase to 35 and 71 respectively. There will also be policies to enable hydrological and weather data, as well as allow information to be shared among agencies and farmers. Furthermore the funds will go towards improving the early warning systems that warn locals about coming floods.

Since the floods, the government has increased the amount of Climate Investment fund money allocated to developing flood protection efforts and improving hydrological and meteorological services to $15 million from $10 million. The Norwegian government is providing an additional $4.5 million.

“It will be a big step (towards) climate resilience. We are moving towards investment where we want to prove that climate resilience is achievable,” said Xavier Chavana, coordinator of the program at the Ministry of Planning and Development. “The funding is coming at the right time because people will learn and be able to deal with climate change.

– Catherine Ulrich

Sources: Alertnet, IRIN Africa
Photo: ASEM