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Marketplace for Nutritious Foods in Kenya and Mozambique
Over 925 million people are currently undernourished worldwide, and 3.5 million children under the age of five die from malnourishment every year. The problem is especially prevalent in Eastern Africa, where 23 million children will grow up stunted and likely permanently impaired. Most diets in these areas consist of simple grains and very few fruits and vegetables which contain key nutrients that are needed for proper mental and physical growth.

In the past, poverty alleviation efforts have been focused on increasing the quantity of food produced by farmers, rather than quality. But recently, more attention has been paid to what kinds of foods are reaching those in poverty, and how the crops can help them not just survive, but actually improve their quality of life. The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has created a unique plan for making nutritious foods a possibility for farmers to grow, and for consumers to buy.

The Marketplace for Nutritious Foods, which was started up with a $2.1 million grant from USAID, is up and running in both Kenya and Mozambique, with plans to go to Tanzania as well. The Marketplace works by searching for businesses that can provide affordable nutritious foods upon receipt of help from the organization in the form of funding for seeds, technical assistance, business support and networking opportunities. After receiving numerous applications, GAIN selectively chooses organizations that fit the program and gives them everything they need to get nutritious foods to the consumers. The final product, which is anything from dairy products to sweet potatoes, is fully nutritious and reaches the local markets at an affordable price for the public to consume.

As a result, the public is not only given more access to nutritious foods, but the farmers also gain an opportunity for income. The Marketplace provides the incentive farmers need to produce the healthy foods necessary for the population to thrive.

– Emma McKay

Sources: USAID

Obama Electrify Africa
According to the International Energy Agency, all developing nations lack adequate access to electricity. This amounts to 1.3 billion people living in the dark worldwide. According to the same source, an investment of $1 trillion USD would be needed to remedy this. Currently, poverty and hunger take center stage. Food is of more use to a starving child than is a night light, but Westerners often take for granted how valuable the power of light can be to a community in poverty.

Not only does electricity make lives easier on a personal level, it helps to mechanize farming operations, which can be a great boost to a company’s agricultural productivity. Natural disasters often become less deadly when people are warned about them ahead of time, which can be accomplished with electric monitoring systems. Socially, populations are less marginalized with improved means of communication and information.

President Barack Obama said during his recent trip to South Africa, “Access to electricity is fundamental to opportunity in this age. It’s the light that children study by, the energy that allows an idea to be transformed into a real business. It’s the lifeline for families to meet their most basic needs, and it’s the connection that’s needed to plug Africa into the grid of the global economy.” President Obama then pledged almost $7 billion USD to help provide electricity for Africa.

The White House stated that The Export-Import Bank will carry most of the financial weight of the program, donating $5 billion, and the U.S. Oversees Private Investment Corporation will provide another $1.5 billion.

The funds will go toward preventing the frequent blackouts that plague the Sub-Saharan part of the continent, as well as helping the 85% percent of people in the region without electricity gain access to it. Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Mozambique will be the first countries to benefit from the program as it is developed at preliminary stages.

The investment is a great step toward solving the problem, but in all, Africa alone will need $300 billion to achieve universal electricity by 2030. The Alliance for Rural Electrification, a non-government organization, is another ally in combating this issue. As champions of universal electrification, ARE focuses on renewable energy such as solar, which much of Africa is a strong candidate for. This is especially relevant for areas that are geographically isolated where extending the reach of an existing power grid is not feasible.

– Samantha Mauney

Source: ARE, Scientific American, CNN
Photo: Business Insider

Poverty in Mozambique

Mozambique is a vibrant and scenic country in Southeastern Africa with a population of nearly 30 million people. The nation has abundant natural resources and its coastal location provides strategic access to the maritime economy. After attaining independence in 1975, Mozambique fractured during the Mozambican Civil War, displacing nearly five million people and driving up the rate of poverty in Mozambique. Although the war ended in 1992, violence and instability greatly set back the nation’s economic development.

Despite facing tremendous adversity, Mozambique has made great progress in poverty reduction. The nation has decreased infant and maternal mortality and increased life expectancy as well as access to education, water and electricity. Over the last 15 years, the nation has reduced its multidimensional poverty rates from 92.8% to 71%, and its Human Development Index (HDI) has increased from 0.217 in 1990 to 0.446 in 2018. Mozambique has great potential, although almost 50% of its population continues to struggle with poverty. Mozambique still faces a variety of challenges as they strive to reduce poverty further, but innovative solutions provide hope for a brighter future.

Natural Disasters

Increasing disaster preparedness is central to combating poverty in Mozambique. The country is incredibly prone to natural disasters and experiences an average of one large-scale disaster every year. In 2019, two strong tropical cyclones hit Mozambique only six weeks apart from one another. The natural disasters left approximately 1.85 million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance and had catastrophic effects on the nation’s development. In 2017, the Mozambique government established The National Disaster Risk Reduction Master Plan (PDRRD) to reduce risk, loss of lives and impact on infrastructure. Increasing funding and resources for this disaster management plan will help protect the most vulnerable from natural disasters and keep Mozambique on the development track.

Income Inequality

Combating inequality remains a key challenge to Mozambique’s development. Newfound growth has not been shared by all, as poverty continues to plague the country’s rural population. Welfare levels diverge greatly from the urban south to the rural north, largely due to increased connectedness to job markets in urban areas. Many rural Mozambicans remain stuck in a cycle of poverty because they are cut off from the larger economic landscape. The International Fund for Agricultural Development is working to fix this dilemma with its Rural Enterprise Finance Project. The initiative is dedicated to improving national and regional access for nearly 300,000 rural people involved in agriculture, fisheries and small to medium-sized enterprises.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Investing in the agricultural and informal sectors helps support the rural poor and equalize welfare. Agriculture plays a vital role in reducing poverty, as it raises the income of farmers and lowers national food prices. Almost 80% of Mozambique’s population works in the agricultural sector, which accounts for nearly 25% of its GDP. However, low productivity has impeded farmers’ efforts to transition out of poverty.

Key inputs such as fertilizer can increase a farmer’s yield by nearly 40%, and higher connectivity links rural farmers to larger markets. The World Bank’s Agricultural Productivity Program for Southern Africa is working to increase the availability of agricultural technologies across the region and has aided more than one million Mozambicans throughout its seven-year existence.

Mozambique has an abundance of natural resources, particularly energy and minerals, and is home to the third-largest natural gas reserves in Africa. Extensive development in the extractive industry has led to economic growth in recent years, and the sector contributed 19.47% of the nation’s GDP in 2017. Although Mozambique’s economy slowed in 2019 due to a declining coal industry and infrastructure damage from cyclones, it is expected to revive by 2024 as natural gas production is established.

Tourism

Mozambique has become one of the fastest-growing travel destinations in Africa, so tourist sector growth is pivotal in reducing poverty levels. Tourists enjoy extensive safari parks, beautiful beaches and rich culture, yet specialists have concluded that Mozambique has not fully utilized its potential. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is helping to grow Mozambique’s tourism sector to create employment opportunities for the nation’s poor. The IFC has made legal material on the country’s tourism industry free for potential investors and is working to sustainably develop Mozambique’s natural sights and biodiversity-rich areas.

Equal Opportunities

Investing in people—especially women—can transform Mozambique’s human capital and dramatically increase prosperity. Providing equal access to education, sanitation, electricity and health services helps combat inequality and creates opportunities for the rural poor and women of Mozambique. Women and girls are less likely to escape poverty and attain education and employment in comparison to their male counterparts. Reducing female drop-out-rates poses a great challenge to the educational sector. Although 94% of girls enroll in primary school, over half drop out by the fifth grade.

A USAID-funded project called Nikhalamo (translating to “I am here to stay” in the Chuabo language) is working to reduce Mozambique’s female dropout rate by improving learning opportunities for girls and young women. Nikhalamo provides education and life-skills programs, community engagement and mentoring in the Namacurra district. The project continues to expand each year.

Mozambique has made astounding accomplishments in combating poverty. Since the 1990s, infrastructure development, increased access to essential services and economic growth have contributed to poverty reduction and improved quality of life. However, the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic threaten progress, especially as Mozambique continues to recover from the devastating cyclones in 2019. Social safety nets during the pandemic will be key to protecting the labor force, avoiding food insecurity, maintaining school enrollment, and thereby reducing poverty in Mozambique.

Claire Brenner
Photo: Flickr

Land Rover
Mozambique is quite the paradoxical nation. It ranks 185th out of 187 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index, making it a country with some of the poorest people in the world. Yet, if you walk the streets of the city of Maputo, you’ll see skyscrapers, Land Rovers, sophisticated bars and restaurants, and expensive homes and apartment buildings. Despite the fact that 55% of people in the country live in poverty, it appears that Mozambique has expensive tastes. Who can afford these luxuries?

There is a huge wage gap in the country, with the average worker earning about $100 per month, and the few, super-rich who can afford $230 aftershave and $320 champagne. Many of these upper-class citizens are government ministers, relatives of the ruling party, and business people. Mozambique’s hotels are regularly crowded with business people from around the world looking to invest in the oil and natural gas the country has to offer.

Mozambique has an incredible economy, with one of the highest GDP growth rates in the world, but the problem is that money is not being distributed among the rest of the country. The theory of trickle-down capitalism is not working here, because the rich who are making the most money are not investing it in their nation, they’re keeping it for themselves. Many people are upset about the corrupt practices in Mozambique, and that business interests often take precedence over the health and safety of citizens.

Experts argue that one of the biggest problems is a lack of a middle class. The nation is developing quickly, thus pushing some people to the very top of the class and leaving the rest at the very bottom. By investing in cheaper travel to encourage new growth that will build a middle class, they claim that the country can pull many of those living in poverty above the line. They also explain that the people of Mozambique need to begin to take charge and speak out against the corruption to become the change the country needs.

Katie Brockman
Source: allAfrica
Photo: Land Rover

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In the United States, the average person will live to be 78 years old. In that time, they’ll likely get married, have children of their own, have a long career and then spend roughly 13 years in retirement. For most of us, this seems like the natural progression of life. In many places around the world however, many people won’t live to see the day they become grandparents and the idea of retirement is just a pie in the sky.

What does low life expectancy tell us?

The World Bank defines life expectancy at birth as the number of years a newborn can be expected to live, assuming no change in the living conditions of the country present at birth. When life expectancy in a country is low, it indicates a lack in some of the basic necessities required to live a long, healthy life.

This often includes things such as clean drinking water, nutritious food, hygienic living conditions and adequate health care. But in some cases, it is far more complicated than that. AIDS related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa for example, have been driving down average life expectancy for decades. Conflict, war and genocide also contribute to a shorter average life span.

The following is a list of 10 countries with the lowest life expectancy numbers on the planet, the 10 worst places to be born. For comparison, life expectancy in the United States was 48 in the year 1900.

10. Mozambique

Life expectancy: 50 years

9. Chad

Life expectancy: 50 years

8. Zambia

Life expectancy: 49 years

7. Afghanistan

Life expectancy: 49 years

6. Swaziland

Life expectancy: 49 years

 5. The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Life expectancy: 48 years

 4. Central African Republic

Life expectancy: 48 years

3. Guinea-Bissau

Life expectancy: 48 years

 2. Lesotho

Life expectancy: 48 years

 1. Sierra Leone

Life expectancy: 48 years

These figures express the importance of global health initiatives undertaken by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other health actors on the world stage. Many government health ministries and non-governmental health organizations are also stepping up to meet these challenges. These efforts are imperative for global development and their continued persistence can eventually lead to long and healthy lives for people in these countries.

– Erin N. Ponsonby

Sources:World Bank, Washington Post, Berkeley
Photo:Alexia Foundation

UNICEF SMS Health Blog_opt
The problem of disseminating health-related information to impoverished communities is consistently at the forefront of humanitarian aid. On March 27,  Mcel, a mobile telecommunications provider in Mozambique, along with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health signed a partnership which enables all Mcel customers to receive educational text messages.

This project, dubbed “SMS for Life,” spreads information to all Mcel users free of charge. The topics addressed in the text messages go over disease prevention, injuries, violence against children, and the importance of using health facilities. The program is scheduled to last three years and contributes to the national effort to achieve Millennium Development Goals four and five established by the UN. These goals focus on reducing child mortality rates and improving maternal health.

While the use of mobile phones in Mozambique isn’t as common as in the United States, Mcel’s subscribers cover all social groups – this project alone is predicted to reach nearly five million people.

One of the interesting aspects of this partnership is the use of the private sector in contributing its resources and support to public health and national goals. This type of success includes low involvement from external countries and simply aids the nation’s own companies and people in addressing national problems.

-Pete Grapentien
Source: UNICEF

Mozambique Uses New Technology to Fight AIDS
In Mozambique, 11.5% of 15 to 49-year-olds are HIV positive, and half of the untreated children who are HIV positive die before they reach the age of two due to delays in diagnosis and treatment. Now, new technologies to help diagnose and assess rural, poor citizens of Mozambique are being used by three different aid organizations.

UNICEF, along with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), have been administering new tests that will rapidly increase the speed of diagnoses in children and also test other patients’ immunity levels. The new tests do not require a high level of technology, making it easier for health workers to administer the tests in rural areas, and are able to tell workers when a patient needs to switch antiretrovirals.

Normally, the HIV tests used in Mozambique take a spot of dry blood for testing with results taking nearly two months, with some patients never returning to find out the results. In addition to taking much longer, these older testing techniques are much less accurate than the current tests. The new technology takes no longer than an hour to determine if a patient is HIV positive.

Although the new technology helps the speed of return time of diagnoses, determining whether children in Mozambique are HIV positive is still a challenge as two types of tests are needed to determine if the antibodies of a newborn are from the mother or in the child’s blood itself. Aid groups hope to increase health infrastructure in the country to have the ability to offer both types of tests to patients.

Christina Kindlon

Source: The Guardian

Mosquito Nets Save Lives in Mozambique
Many foreign aid organizations assist developing countries not by sending money, but by providing health and educational equipment for impoverished people. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is among the organizations that employ this method. A case in point is that since 2007, USAID has delivered 20 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets to Mozambique.

The impact of these mosquito nets has been invaluable, says Polly Dunford, the interim USAID Director in Mozambique. The nets have decreased the number of malaria cases in the country, most notably in cases of children.

USAID partnered with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to fight malaria in Mozambique. PEPFAR uses aid money from USAID to distribute the mosquito nets and insecticide spray, counsel pregnant women about malaria prevention, and produce more effective malaria drugs.

In addition to providing assistance to reduce cases of malaria, USAID has been focusing on helping farmers become more successful. Given Mozambique’s ocean accessibility, it has the potential to become a regional food supplier, says Dunford. USAID has been supporting the agriculture sector through training programs that educate farmers on how to more productively sell their food products.

Mozambique receives about $500 million from USAID annually and a majority of that money goes towards the health sectors, like PEPFAR and other malaria prevention programs. The country has high levels of experienced economic growth, however, many people are still living in poverty. With the help of USAID, the number of impoverished and those dying from malaria in Mozambique will continue to decrease.

– Mary Penn

Source: AllAfrica
Photo: World Vision

Top Priorities for Africa in 2013The Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) at Brookings released a report of top priorities for Africa.  The AGI “brings together African scholars to provide policymakers with high-quality research, expertise, and innovative solutions that promote Africa’s economic development.”  The Foresight Africa report shows promising opportunities in Africa.  It outlines the top priorities for Africa in 2013.

Moving from “economic stagnation to above 5 percent GDP growth on average,” Africa is prospering.  Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania are some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and African governments are embracing this growth by lowering transaction costs.  Africa’s economic growth is creating a new middle class.  This middle class means new markets for goods and services.  The Foresight Africa report notes that it is a prime time for investors.

Some African countries are mirroring Asian models and engaging their diasporas for economic and social development.  South Africa, for example, is using TalentCorp’s model.  TalentCorp is a partnership between the government, the private sector and the overseas diaspora.  The model aims to bring highly skilled Malaysians living abroad back to their home country.

Countries everywhere recognize the potential in harnessing Africa’s diaspora.  In 2011, the United States Congress proposed the African Investment and Diaspora Act.  The bill was designed to support African development.  Ghana and Kenya are on the cutting-edge and have already “established units within their respective governments to oversee diaspora affairs.”  AGI’s Foresight Africa report points to these examples as models for other countries.

Check out the full report for more information.

Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: Brookings
Photo: Daily Maverick

Increased Food and Farm Productivity in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia

It is estimated that over 277 million people across the continent of Africa obtain their livelihoods through agriculture. Many of these people are located in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia. In fact, agriculture is a large component of the economies in these three countries. Improving food and farm productivity in these three countries could help in the fight against poverty. Agricultural productivity has been found to be a critical component in eradicating poverty because it creates food security and helps to protect the environment.

Recently, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved an International Development Association credit of $89.4 million to aid in food and farm productivity in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. The credit will go towards the creation of Regional Centers of Leadership for food staples, such as rice and maize, help spread technological advancements, such as mobile phones, as well as will help boost agricultural research capacity and help spread technological advancements, such as mobile phones and help train farmers and provide agricultural knowledge. At least 30 percent of farmers chosen to receive aid or benefit from the aid are women.

Michael Morris and Melissa Brown, World Bank Co-Task Team Leaders, said, “The agricultural sector has a strong influence on growth, employment, food security and poverty reduction efforts benefiting the entire economy…successful implementation of this innovative project that takes a farmer-centric approach to development and dissemination of improved crop varieties and promising farm practices” will be beneficial to a multitude of people and help in the fight against poverty.

– Angela Hooks

Source: allAfrica
Photo: Guardian