Mozambique News Agency
Mozambique's first "Millennium Village" was officially launched on 28 June in Chibuto municipality, in the southern province of Gaza. The idea behind the village is to show how, with donor support, a settlement of a few thousand people can be lifted out of poverty. Pilot villages in Kenya and Ethiopia have already shown how, with relatively small expenditure on improved seeds and fertiliser, crop yields have improved dramatically - with striking impacts on food security and household income.
Initially Mozambique will have 11 Millennium Villages (one per province), each benefiting about 5,000 people for a total annual investment of $ 3.3 million. The initiative is run by the Ministry of Science and Technology, and counts on support from the UN Millennium Project, under economist Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The MDGs were agreed upon, without dissent, by world leaders at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000. Among the Goals is to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty, ensure universal primary education, cut child mortality by two thirds and maternal mortality by three quarters, and halt, then reverse, the spread of AIDS. The deadline set was 2015.
Jeffrey Sachs visited the village for its inauguration as part of his four-day visit to Mozambique, and stated that "the Millennium Village is an initiative which today has as its challenge poverty alleviation, but later is intended to improve increasingly the lives of the inhabitants".
The Gaza village is the Samora Machel neighbourhood of Chibuto municipality - an outlying, rural suburb of Chibuto town. It covers an area of 90,000 square metres, which was once and agricultural and livestock company, abandoned by its owner 25 years ago.
Sachs asked the people attending the ceremony, how many of them had been ill with malaria, and almost every household reported someone suffering recently from the disease. Then he asked if any of them had mosquito nets protecting their beds. No one had.
He had brought with him 500 insecticide-treated bed nets. It is not enough, and a further 2,500 will soon follow. Sachs also delivered a plough, and four yokes for animal traction.
During his discussion with the residents, Sachs asked them what their main concerns are. In addition to malaria, they indicated an inadequate education and health network, a shortage of clean drinking water, and lack of means of agricultural production. They once had pumps for irrigation - but these were swept away in the floods of February 2000 and have never been replaced.
According to the Minister of Science and Technology, Venancio Massingue, a technical team will now visit the Millennium Village to design the new infrastructures needed, work on which should begin within the next six months.
The Millennium Village Project is the brainchild of Columbia University's Earth Institute, which is headed by Sachs. The project describes its goal as "ending extreme poverty, one village at a time".
The project document states "the core idea of Millennium Villages is that villages of approximately 5,000 people will escape from extreme poverty, if they are empowered with proven and practical technologies to improve their farm productivity, health, education and access to markets".
It focuses on "empowering individual African villages to achieve the MDGs by implementing a comprehensive set of community-based, low cost and integrated rural development strategies within the budget recommended by the UN Millennium Project".
Among the interventions are improved agricultural techniques to increase crop yields dramatically; investments to relive the burden on women, such as improved access to water and wood fuel, accessible clinics, and mills for grain; free daily school lunches using locally produced food to support children's nutrition, and provide an incentive for parents to keep them at school; distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets to combat malaria; and off-grid energy, water and information technologies "to provide clean water and energy and to save hours of daily labour spent collecting firewood and water".
Sachs and his team have carefully costed the project. They calculate that the costs of a Millennium Village are $110 per person per year. This breaks down as $50 from donors, $20 from "partner organisations" (e.g. NGOs or companies), $30 from local and national governments, and $10 from villages. Add management costs, and donors would be asked to provide $300,000 a year per village, or $1.5 million over five years.
The project insists that "the interventions in the first five years of the project are not handouts, but investments in the Green Revolution transformation that allows communities to move from farming to a broader range of commercial activities, including non-agricultural commerce".
"This transformation", it adds, "encourages women and men to establish their own businesses, to take advantage of micro-finance and micro-enterprise opportunities and to explore income- earning possibilities beyond farming".
The cost of a Millennium Village should peak in year two, and then decline "as villages build the capital stock required to generate economic growth and support their own needs".
The project ventures a rough breakdown of costs - which shows that health care is the most expensive item, accounting for 40 per cent of costs. The vital agricultural improvements only take ten per cent (infrastructure is 14 per cent of the costs, water supply 13 per cent, nutrition eight per cent, and education six per cent.
Mozambique can still reach MDGs
Speaking on 29 June in Maputo, Jeffrey Sachs said that he is convinced Mozambique can reach the Millennium Development Goals by the deadline of 2015.
Only nine years are left to achieve this ambitious programme, but Sachs believes that sub-Saharan Africa can attain the goals, with the political will and hard work of Africans themselves, and with the resources that foreign donors have promised, but have not always delivered.
At the end of his visit to Mozambique, Sachs told a press conference that, at the current pace, Mozambique was likely to miss several of the MDGs. But with more resources, the pace can be picked up, he stressed.
The policy of the Mozambican government was largely correct - in Sachs' view it was a question of "speeding things up".
There were basic interventions that could make a huge difference for relatively little expenditure. The one that Sachs referred to repeatedly throughout his visit is malaria control.
Dozens of children die of malaria every day in Mozambique, "yet this is a disease which is 100 per cent treatable, and largely preventable", Sachs stressed.
He regards insecticide-treated bed nets as the best bargain in the world. A five dollar bed net will last for five years: if two children are sleeping under it, a child's life will have been protected for 50 cents a year.
Two companies make the nets: Sumitomo Chemicals of Japan and Vestegaard of Denmark. Sachs points out that, as long as they have a confirmed order, either company will have no difficult in supplying Mozambique with the 11 or 12 million bed nets required.
But Sachs has no time for "social marketing" of life-saving interventions such as bed nets. "You can't sell bed nets to people who haven't got any money", he insists. "They must be given away".
The World Bank on 3 July announced the cancellation of most of Mozambique's debt to its soft loans arm, the International Development Association (IDA), in line with the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) agreed at the 2005 summit in Scotland of the G8 group of most industrialised nations. MDRI has cancelled all debts owing to the IDA, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank (ADB) that were outstanding at the end of 2003.
According to the World Bank, the amount of debt to the IDA cancelled is $1.306 billion. When the amount of World Bank debt relief to Mozambique under the two instalments of the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) initiative is factored in, the total amount of debt to the IDA cancelled rises to $2.361 billion.
Before MDRI, Mozambique was to have paid $32 million in debt service to the IDA in 2007-08, and a further $97 million in 2009-11. Now nothing at all is due for this period.
The World Bank country director for Mozambique, Michael Baxter, said "the debt relief under MDRI will allow the government of Mozambique to allocate more resources for badly needed expenditure on, for example, education, health or infrastructure".
The World Bank is to make $20 million available to smallholder farmers in the Zambezi Valley to increase their income and support development. This decision was taken in Washington on 20 June, when the Executive Directors of the World Bank approved the credit facility that will be disbursed through the International Development Association (IDA).
The Bank describes this as a "Market Led Smallholder Development Project", and says it "aims to increase the incomes of smallholder farmers in selected districts of the Zambezi Valley region"
According to Jeeva A. Perumalpillai-Essex, the World Bank Task Team Leader for the project, "long-term environmentally sustainable agricultural intensification among smallholder farmers is key for continued macroeconomic growth".
She added that the project "is consistent with the Government's priorities in the sector as well as on the broader rural development agenda, and will help lift out of poverty a great number of rural poor in one of the most populated areas, with the greatest agricultural potential in the Zambezi Valley".
The World Bank considers this to be a pilot scheme, which if successful could be spread to other parts of Mozambique.
The project will be managed by the Ministry of Planning and Development, and has been designed to fit in with the Government's policy of decentralisation. It has also been conceived as part of the World Bank's strategy of support for development in the Zambezi Valley, which has seen World Bank funds directed at improving roads and bridges in the valley, along with the Beira Railways Project.
The $20 million will be provided as a soft loan, with a "service charge" of 0.75 percent over a 40-year period of maturity that includes a 10-year grace period.
Since Mozambique joined the World Bank in 1984, 55 projects have been approved totalling about $3 billion. Currently there are 19 active projects valued at about $950 million.
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), meeting in Washington on 19 June, agreed to release a further 1.62 million Special Drawing Rights (SDR), equivalent to $2.4 million, to Mozambique. This is part of a package of 11.36 million SDR (about $16.7 million) agreed under the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Faculty (PRGF).
Funds under this facility are released piecemeal, after the IMF board reviews the economic performance of the beneficiary country. So far Mozambique has undergone four of these quarterly reviews, and total disbursements under the PRGF have reached 8.1 million SDR.
Kato praised the Bank of Mozambique for its restrictive monetary and flexible exchange rate policies that "have served the country well".
The IMF's resident representative in Maputo, Felix Fisher, told AIM that, although the IMF's loans were small, compared with the sums disbursed by those donors who provide support directly to the Mozambican state budget, the IMF played a key role in reassuring Mozambique's other partners. "That's how the IMF has been supporting the country in the area of reforms", he said. "The result is that the partners feel safer in continuing to support the government".
The IMF describes the PRGF as its concessional facility for low-income countries. PRGF loans carry an annual interest rate of 0.5 per cent and are repayable over 10 years with a 5-year grace period on principal payments.
Finland has pledged to grant €5 million (over $6 million) to support the development of the central province of Zambezia over the 2006-2010 period.
The project is intended to finance activities that contribute to poverty reduction, with particular stress on poor women, and which lead to sustainable management of natural resources. It is also concerned with developing rural businesses, through the processing and marketing of crops.
The first phase of the project will focus on Mocuba district in the heart of Zambezia, and it will then gradually expand to the neighbouring districts.
According to the Finnish Embassy, "the key problem to be addressed by the project is the persistence of rural poverty in Zambezia, and this is linked to insufficient and unsustainable use of the great agricultural and forestry potential in the province".
The project hopes to support the government's decentralisation, and rural development policies "through a combination of capacity building, micro-projects and sharing of information".
As part of a policy to transfer know-how to local communities, the project will be implemented in collaboration with the private sector and with NGOs.
The Mozambican and German governments signed an agreement in Maputo on 28 June under which Germany will grant Mozambique €47 million (about $59 million) in direct budget support and for five cooperation projects. €20 million is in the form of budget support.
The agreement was signed by Mozambique's Deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze, and by the German ambassador, Klaus-Christian Kraemer.
Under the government's strategic plan for education, the Education Sector Support Fund (FASE) will receive €8.5 million and the school building programme will receive €5 million. €2 million goes towards support for rural development and decentralisation, while the road building and maintenance programme in the southern province of Inhambane takes €5 million. The final €6.5 million is earmarked for the "sustainable economic development programme".
President Armando Guebuza on 28 June swore Erasmo Nhavoto into office as one of the country's assistant Attorney-Generals. In his new post, President Guebuza said, Nhavoto would have the "tough but exalting task" of assisting the country put justice within reach of all Mozambicans.
Speaking to reporters after the brief ceremony, Attorney-General Joaquim Madeira said that the addition of Nhavoto to his staff was part of a strategy to put at the head of the justice sector "serious, competent and experienced cadres".
But there was still a long way to go. Nhavoto is the seventh assistant attorney-general, but in principle there should be 16 attorneys in Madeira's office. So he was working with less than half the staff needed.
Madeira pointed out that his office should be represented in all sections of the Supreme Court and of the Administrative Tribunal (the body that deals with the legality of public expenditure): but with only a handful of attorneys this was not possible.
Education Minister Aires Aly said on 22 June that the impending end to World Food Programme (WFP) logistical support for Mozambican schools should be regarded as an incentive for schools to produce their own foodstuffs.
The WFP has recently announced its intention to end the food supplements it has been supplying to about 330,000 Mozambican school pupils.
Far from lamenting this decision, Aly, speaking to reporters during the national meeting of teacher training institutions in Maputo, said this cut should eliminate the idea of "dependent pupils" - instead efforts should be made to relaunch agricultural production in schools.
He said that a programme to this effect would be launched jointly by the Education and Agriculture Ministries: he hoped the end result would be sufficient production to provide meals for the pupils, and a surplus for sale.
Based on this programme, added Aly, production should appear as a subject on the school curriculum. He believed this would create "a mentality of work" among school students, freeing their initiative and leading them to abandon the habit of living off donations.
The Minister pointed out that Mozambique already has examples of schools that produce for their own sustenance, and even sell part of their crops.
The WFP will not to cut off its food support overnight. The end of the WFP programme will be phased over two years.
The WFP food supplements go to pupils living in boarding schools, and to those studying in certain establishments that benefit from lunches provided by WFP, as an incentive to keep pupils at school. The number assisted in this way is less than 10 per cent of the four million pupils in Mozambican primary and secondary schools.
Some provinces are already working on alternatives. Thus in the northern province of Nampula, where some 41,000 pupils currently benefit from the WFP aid, the education authorities have announced their intention to reactivate production centres in all boarding establishments, and in all schools benefiting from the WFP lunches.
Due to good rainfall this year, Mozambique's food and nutritional security has improved substantially, according to the latest assessment from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
A harvest report from WFP, released on 28 June, warned that across the southern African region, despite a general improvement in harvests, "more than three million people would remain short of food because of chronic vulnerability caused by grinding poverty and the world's highest rates of HIV/AIDS".
In this regional picture, Mozambique is one of the brighter spots. The WFP release puts this year's grain harvest at 2.3 million tonnes, "compared with a national requirement of 2.6 million tonnes".
As a result WFP envisaged a 30 per cent drop in Mozambique's need for food aid, apart from those sections of the population described as "critically vulnerable".
An assessment team noted signs of improvement such as "more frequent daily meals and better household diet". The water supply and sanitation situation had also improved, as a result partly of the rains, and partly of new wells and boreholes.
The Mozambican government's Water Supply Investments and Assets Fund (FIPAG) on 21 June told President Armando Guebuza that work on the new water distribution centre in the Maputo suburb of Laulane will be concluded by November.
President Guebuza was visiting the construction work at Laulane as part of his tour of Maputo municipality, the final stage in what he describes as his "open presidency", which has taken him round the entire country, verifying on the ground how government anti-poverty programmes are being implemented.
The chairman of the FIPAG board, Nelson Beete, said the Laulane distribution centre is budgeted at 711 billion meticais (about $28.5 million). It should increase the supply of treated water to the city from the current 120,000 cubic metres a day to 144,000 cubic metres. The number of people reached by the Maputo water network will now increase to over 200,000 - however, this is less than 20 per cent of the total population of the Maputo-Matola conurbation.
The construction work is being undertaken by the China Metallurgical Construction (Group) Corporation (CMCGC), and is financed by the African Development Bank (ADB).
The Mozambican government on 23 June formally launched its second five year Plan of Action for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty (PARPA-II), at a ceremony chaired by the Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia.
The document was approved by the Cabinet in May, after a lengthy process of consultation with civil society, and with the government's international partners.
The main target of PARPA-II is to reduce the percentage of the population living below the poverty line from 54 per cent (the figure found by the 2003 Household Survey) to 45 per cent by 2009.
The new plan maintains the same priorities as PARPA-I in developing human capital, in education and health, in improving governance, in developing basic infrastructure, and in improving macro-economic and financial management.
Where it differs from the earlier plan is in including a new stress on greater integration of the national economy, focusing its attention on development at district level, and on creating a favourable environment for growth of the productive sector - particularly small and medium companies.
Although PARPA-II envisages increasing tax collection and other domestic revenue in real terms between 2006 and 2009, Cuereneia admitted that the government will continue to rely on foreign aid to finance about 49 per cent of the state budget.
Cuereneia stressed that the success of PARPA-II will depend on close coordination between the government, civil society, and international partners (i.e. foreign donors and funding agencies), and on the timely and rational allocation of resources.
The Minister stressed that the 128 districts form the basic units for planning and development. The district is thus the take-off point for implementing, monitoring and assessing all the actions included in PARPA-II.
Cuereneia took the opportunity to express the government's satisfaction at the recognition earlier this week by the IMF's Executive Board of the good performance of the Mozambican economy. He said that the IMF's statement, and the disbursement of a further $2.4 million from the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), would boost the confidence of other foreign partners in continuing to support Mozambique in its fight against poverty.
This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact email@example.com
email: Mozambique News Agency
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