Mozambique News Agency
The operation to rescue people hit by flooding along the Zambezi valley in central Mozambique has come to an end, but the authorities are warning that heavy rains forecast for the coming weeks is likely to cause further damage. However, the Disasters Management National Institute (INGC) has stressed that it is still able to deal with the crisis, and is working with local and international partners to deal with the aftermath of the floods.
Using 25 boats the INGC rescued 120,791 people from islands in the river and low-lying areas along its banks, many of whom have been placed in accommodation and resettlement centres in Manica, Sofala, Zambezia and Tete provinces. The operations in the Zambezi Valley over the past fortnight were undertaken without any loss of life at all. The INGC knows of no reports of any casualties among the flood victims.
However, the INGC has warned provincial governors and district administrators in the central region of the country to expect a worsening of the flood situation in the next two to three weeks. The alert was made by State Administration Minister Lucas Chomera during a meeting with those officials to discuss the situation in the region and try and find solutions.
INGC director Paulo Zucula has warned that hydrometric stations in Mutarara, in the western Tete, and Caia, and Marromeu, in central Sofala provinces, are still showing above alert water levels.
Zucula said that levels of the main Zambezi subsidiaries, including Revubwe, Luia, and Chire, are still very high, due to continued rainfall, both in Mozambique, and in the neighbouring Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, which may contribute to further flooding downstream the Zambezi.
He added that a new peak of flooding in Zambia, which is higher than the in 2001, could reach Mozambique within the next three weeks.
Rescue operations were carried out by 173 marines from the Armed Forces, Red Cross volunteers and local residents.
In light of the seriousness of the situation, the government added 40 million meticais (about $1.6 million) to the INGC emergency funds, bringing the total to 120.8 million meticais.
The main threat to life comes from the danger of an outbreak of diseases such as cholera or meningitis. The relief effort has also been hit by damage to access roads leading to the resettlement and accommodation centres.
Crops have been destroyed in the flooded areas, and the INGC has called for relevant authorities to prepare supplies of seeds for the second season planting as soon as the floods subside.
Meanwhile, the government is looking to improve the equipment available to the INGC, including a further two helicopters. According to Prime Minister Luisa Diogo, "technicians are considering the options" between repairing two helicopters that are currently out of order, or purchasing two second-hand ones.
The INGC has been operating with only one helicopter for the rescue of victims in the current flooding in the Zambezi valley, and to transport relief goods to the accommodation centres.
Prime Minister Diogo said that the repair of two broken helicopters would cost about $1.5 million, while acquiring a second hand aircraft is estimated at about $800,000.
This is part of the government's negotiations with foreign donors, who have been making an "important contribution" in the ongoing operations in the Zambezi valley, she said.
Prime Minister Diogo said that the British government has offered to help in either the repair or the purchase of the helicopters. Other partners have been supporting Mozambique with tents, foodstuffs, water and sanitation, among other needs. Food aid is now being supplied to those in need, but Prime Minister Diogo described the quantities as still insufficient.
According to the INGC, its main concern at the moment is the shortage of tents for the people in the accommodation centres.
The Spanish government, through its International Cooperation Agency (AECI) and the local Red Cross, has granted €250,000 ($330,000) plus equipment worth €200,000. The equipment includes cisterns, 20 litre water containers, and tents.
On 12 February President Armando Guebuza began a three-day official visit to Norway, mainly to encourage that country's private sector to invest in Mozambique.
This visit, President Guebuza's first since he was inaugurated two years ago, coincides with the 30th anniversary of the launching of cooperation between the two countries.
Mozambique is one of Norway's most important cooperation partners, with diplomatic sources rating this country third in terms of received financial aid, after Afghanistan and Tanzania.
Mozambique receives an average $65 million a year in aid from Norway, of which $18 million are for direct support to the state budget, and the remaining $47 million to support government programmes in the areas of energy, fisheries, health, hydrocarbons, and NGOs. Norwegian support to Mozambique is set to reach $80 million a year by 2009.
The Norwegian Ambassador to Mozambique Thorbjorn Gaustadsaether said that President Guebuza's visit to his country will open up good opportunities for the growth in the volume of Norwegian official aid to Mozambique. He noted that no problem has been reported concerning recent projects funded by Norway in Mozambique.
He also stressed that Mozambique has shown great improvements in institutional empowerment, financial management, and in efforts to fight against corruption.
Mozambique is encouraging the Norwegian private sector to invest in the country, particularly in oil prospection: the Norwegian company HYDRO is already operating in the Rovuma basin.
Mozambique also wants to enhance trade between the two countries, which has remained at a very low level despite 30 years of bilateral cooperation. A Norwegian diplomatic source said that Norwegian exports to Mozambique did not exceed $7 million in 2005, while Mozambican exports to Norway reached only about $30,000 in the same period.
During his visit, President Guebuza also attended the opening session of the 15th Annual Conference on Development of the Norwegian Private Sector, where he delivered a speech on Investment Opportunities in Mozambique and Southern Africa, and their relevance in generating jobs and wealth.
At the Oslo Peace Research Institute, President Guebuza spoke on 'Perspectives for Peace in Africa: the Mozambican Experience'.
The Mozambican delegation included Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu, and the Ministers of Energy, Salvador Namburete, of Fisheries, Cadmiel Muthemba, and of Tourism, Fernando Sumbana.
At the end of the three-day visit President Guebuza described the 30 year long cooperation between the two countries as positive. To illustrate his point of view he mentioned the bilateral agreement of $30 million to finance the electrification of some districts in the northern Cabo Delgado province, and the $39.5 million memorandum of understanding between the publicly owned Mozambican electricity company EDM and the SN Power to establish a joint venture to rehabilitate electricity centrals in the Manica province, among other actions that contribute to the growth of Norwegian aid to the country.
He also pointed out the possibility of Norway to get involved in new activities in the Mozambican economy, particularly in the areas of oil, gas, and aluminium.
In his different speeches in different forums in Oslo, President Guebuza pointed out that Norway received the founder and first president of the Mozambican liberation movement (FRELIMO), Eduardo Mondlane, in the 1960s, and that Norway helped mobilize the world for the cause of liberating Mozambique from colonial domination.
On bilateral cooperation, he described this cooperation as "exemplar", saying that it has a strong impact in the fight against poverty, particularly in the implementation of the Absolute Poverty Reduction Action Plan (PARPA).
He also expressed great appreciation for the Norwegian support in the reduction of mother and child mortality and the overwhelming effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and also in mine clearance, and the extension of power distribution grid in the rural areas.
During his visit, President Guebuza met with King Herald V and with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.
President Armando Guebuza arrived in the southern French town of Cannes on 14 February, to take part in the 24th summit of the heads of state of Africa and of France.
President Guebuza was accompanied by Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu and by the Minister of Industry and Trade, Antonio Fernando.
Following the official opening ceremony, the summit broke into three working groups, with Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu addressing the group on raw materials and Africa on 15 February.
Abreu stressed that Africa's major concern over its raw materials is that, for the most part, these are exported to the developed world without any processing.
Exporting raw materials, rather than manufactured goods, Abreu pointed out, meant a poor return for the producers, since they incorporate little or no added value. "This has greatly reduced the contribution that raw materials should make in the fight against poverty in encouraging the development of our countries, and in improving the living conditions of our citizens" she said.
Mozambique, Abreu added, wanted "to promote the use of technology appropriate to the demands of production and to the specific conditions of our countries", and "to raise the level of technological knowledge, linked to scientific research and innovation". But Africa had to be careful with how it used its raw materials, she said, since these are a finite resource, whose price fluctuated.
Furthermore the level of demand for Africa's raw material would prove "unstable in the medium to long terms". It was thus important "'to ensure that the income from these resources is invested in projects that ensure the sustainability of our economic and social development".
Abreu stressed in particular the importance of small-scale mining, which could create jobs in the countryside, reduce migration from the countryside to the cities, and create alternative sources of income in the rural economy.
The Dutch government and the publicly owned Mozambican Ports and Railways company (CFM) are investing $18 million in two emergency dredging projects for the access channel and the manoeuvring basins in the central port of Beira.
The chairperson of the CFM board of directors, Rui Fonseca, said that the dredging of the access channel will allow large ships uninterrupted access to the port.
Speaking of CFM plans for this year, during the annual meeting of his company's Council of Directors, that ended in Beira on 9 February, Fonseca said that a further project is to acquire an ocean-going dredge with the capacity of 2.5 million cubic meters and other equipment, all budgeted at $40 million, to be contributed by the Danish government.
To try and find a permanent solution to the dredging problem in the country's ports, the Mozambican government has created a National Dredging Fund, to be managed by CFM.
Fonseca said that CFM is to add $1 million to the $3 million a year granted by the government. Speaking of CFM's financial performance in 2006, he said that preliminary results indicate that the company showed a profit of $8.8 million.
He noted that in any analysis of the CFM results one must take into account that the company no longer runs the ports of Maputo, Beira, and Nacala, or the central and northern rail systems, where management has been leased out to private consortia. This reduces CFM's capacity to generate revenue and profits.
The Agriculture Ministry on 12 February in Maputo signed a memorandum of understanding with the country's donors to grant funds for the ministry to implement the second phase of the Agriculture Development National Programme (PROAGRI II). The document was signed between Glauco Glazuola, head of the European Commission, and Deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze.
In the terms of the memorandum, donors are pledging €15 million (about $19.8 million) a year for the period 2007/09 earmarked to continue the actions of the first phase of the programme, and to contribute to the implementation of the second phase of the Absolute Poverty Reduction Action Plan (PARPA II).
The purpose of the funds is to support the small farmers in their activities and in the conservation of the natural resources, and to develop agro-industries to serve both domestic consumption and for export.
Another objective is to guarantee a sustainable management of the natural resources while ensuring the interests of the communities and of the public and the private sectors.
On the occasion, Agriculture Minister Tomas Mandlate said that the document establishes the principles and the terms of cooperation between the government and its partners who contribute to the implementation of the programme through their support to the sector's budget.
"During the second phase of PROAGRI we intend to have most of the resources channelled to those actions in the field that yield the desired impact both on the producer and on production", said Mandlate, adding that the capacity and the basis for that effect were created in the first phase of the programme, that ended in 2005.
He stressed that for success of this programme, his ministry has been working hand in hand with the Planning and Development Ministry to define and diversify crop production, and in the drafting of a new agricultural policy and the respective implementation strategies, along other measures.
The first disbursement of the pledged funds, worth €30 million, is to take place before the end of this year.
The government is thus to benefit of a set of funds aimed at responding to the Agriculture Ministry's strategic programme as part of a scenario of medium term expenses to be used as a support in the drafting of the state budget for 2008.
The Mozambican Association of Friendship and Solidarity (AMASP) and the Cuban Institute of Friendship (ICAP) signed a protocol in Maputo on 7 February to strengthen their cooperation relations.
The document was signed between the chairperson of AMASP's Mozambique/Cuba committee, Marcelino dos Santos, a prominent member of the ruling Frelimo party and a veteran of the Mozambican liberation struggle against Portuguese colonial rule, and the ICAP director for Africa and the Middle East, Francisco Bulnes.
Speaking at the ceremony, Bulnes said that this is just a formalization of a 30-year-old agreement between the two countries. "This agreement allows for the carrying out of various joint actions, such as interchange in the celebration of historic dates, and acts of solidarity, and it will also pave the way for a deeper knowledge between the two countries, and exchange of experiences in international issues", said Bulnes.
He explained that "in the international context, Mozambique and Cuba will strive to show that more solidarity in the planet is possible without the leadership of imperialism. The aim is not to wage a war against imperialism, but to show what we also can accomplish".
Marcelino dos Santos said that the results of this protocol must be reflected in the exchange of experiences between the different state and party delegations in both countries.
Dos Santos recalled that it was in the context of this relationship that a number of schools were opened in Cuba, where many of the current Mozambican leaders were trained. "This cooperation has made a great contribution to the development of the education sector in Mozambique", said dos Santos.
Chinese President Hu Jintao on 8 February announced the cancellation of all Mozambican public debt to China incurred in the period 1980 to 2005. According to Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chang, this debt, on which no interest was being paid, amounts to about $20 million.
President Hu, who was on a 24 hour state visit to Mozambique, as part of a tour of eight African countries, made this announcement after official discussions with his Mozambican counterpart, Armando Guebuza.
He also announced that the number of goods that can enter China from Mozambique duty free has risen from 190 to 442. Trade between China and Mozambique has been growing rapidly. President Hu said it is now worth around $200 million a year - six times the figure for 2001.
Witnessed by President Guebuza and President Hu, Chinese officials signed loan agreements with their Mozambican counterparts. The largest of these is a Chinese government soft loan for 1.2 billion yuan ($155 million). A further $40 million from the China Eximbank, is to be invested in Mozambican public infrastructure.
The Chinese government is also offering Mozambique an interest free loan of $15 million to build a new national stadium. The Mozambican authorities intend to have this stadium ready by 2010, so as to enjoy spin-offs from the football World Cup due to be held that year in neighbouring South Africa.
President Hu also pledged Chinese support for the construction of a pilot centre on agricultural techniques to be built in the northern province of Nampula.
These agreements, he said, were in implementation of decisions taken at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, held in Beijing last November.
Speaking at that Forum, President Hu promised to double China's 2006 aid to Africa by 2009, and cancel all debts to China owed by the least developed African countries that matured by the end of 2005 (with the exception, of course, of that handful of countries that have no diplomatic relations with China, because they chose to recognise Taiwan instead).
The package announced in December also included the sharp rise in African goods that could enter the Chinese market duty free, and the provision of three billion dollars of preferential loans and two billion dollars of preferential buyer's credit to Africa between 2007 and 2009.
The Mozambican and Dutch governments, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on 7 February launched an initiative to provide clean drinking water and adequate sanitation for an extra million people over the next six years.
"Initiative One Million" was launched in the western city of Tete, with Public Works Minister Felicio Zacarias signing the documents for the government.
The programme will be implemented in 18 districts - six in each of Tete, Manica and Sofala provinces. It is costed at $42 million: $28 million will come from the Netherlands, $7 million from UNICEF, while the Mozambican government and the beneficiaries of the programme pay the rest.
The central provinces were chosen for this initiative because of their poor access to clean water, because diarrhoeal diseases and malaria are major causes of mortality and sickness among children, because of high rates of HIV prevalence, and because they are particularly vulnerable to emergencies.
The programme aims to build, by December 2012, 2,000 new water sources (i.e. wells or boreholes) in rural Manica, Sofala and Tete, which will give a million people "sustainable access to clean water". A further 400 water sources will be rehabilitated, providing the same access for a further 200,000 people.
With the construction of 200,000 new latrines, it is hoped that a million people will have adequate access to sanitation.
400 primary schools (with a total of 140,000 children) will also gain access to drinking water and decent sanitation.
The programme also plans to build the capacities of district and provincial level government institutions so that they may effectively play their roles with particular stress on planning, management, coordination and supervision of integrated water, sanitation and hygiene programmes.
Government institutions are also urged to form partnerships with private business to create sustainable networks to supply hand pumps and spare parts to the users of the water sources.
The "Initiative One Million" will contribute towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Mozambique. The MDG water target is that, taking the year 1990 as the baseline, by 2015 the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water be cut by half.
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