Mozambique News Agency
The Mozambican government on 24 March launched the National Rural Water and Sanitation Programme (PRONASUR), intended to ensure that Mozambique can comply with the water-related targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This MDG target is to reduce by half, between 1990 and 2015, the percentage of the population without permanent access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation.
PRONASUR will run from 2010 to 1015 and is budgeted at $300 million. It aims to increase the percentage of the rural population with access to clean water from the current 54 per cent to 70 per cent. Over the same period it hopes to lift basic sanitation coverage from 39 to 50 per cent.
To reach these goals, the programme intends to build 12,000 new water sources, and 120 small water supply systems. This will benefit an additional 4.5 million people, bringing to 13 million the number of people with access to clean water.
The programme will also rehabilitate those rural water systems that are currently out of order.
As for sanitation, PRONASUR envisages the construction of more than 400,000 improved latrines, which at an average of five people per household will benefit a further two million people.
Through a strategy entitled “Community Headed Total Sanitation”, the new programme hopes to reduce, as quickly as possible, the practice, extremely common in parts of the country, of defecating in the open, regarded as one of the key ways in which diarrhoeal diseases, including cholera are spread.
The donors to the Water Sector Common Fund (Britain, Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada and UNICEF) have pledged $9.5 million to PRONASUR for 2010, and the Mozambican government is contributing a further $2 million.
The publicly owned electricity company, EDM, is planning to connect 120,000 households to the grid this year, declared EDM chairperson Manuel Cuambe on 24 March.
Addressing a meeting in Maputo on the balance sheet of EDM’s activities in 2009, and its plans for this year, Cuamba said the company would also link the district capitals of Mecanhelas, Metarica, Maua, Marrupa, and Sanga, in the northern province of Niassa, to the national power grid before the end of 2010.
Cuambe said that EDM managed to meet all its targets for 2009, including the extension of electricity to the district capitals of Chemba and Chibabava, in Sofala province, Maravia and Macanga (Tete), Namapa (Nampula), and Mabalane (Gaza).
With the extension of electricity to Zumbo district, in Tete, earlier this year, EDM has completed its plan to supply power to all district capitals in that province. This brings to 89 (out of 128) the number of district capitals connected to the national grid, eight more than the figure attained in 2008.
EDM has now launched the third phase of a project to electrify the northern province of Cabo Delgado, which will take power to the districts of Macomia, Meluco, Quissanga, Mocimboa da Praia, Mueda, Nangade, and Muidumbe. This work is expected to be completed by 2011.
Cuambe added that money is already available for the various electrification projects, estimated at $220 million, adding to another $289 million that is financing work that is almost complete. EDM’s goal is that 115 district capitals should be electrified by 2013.
He pointed out that the work done in 2009 benefited 120,888 households (about 530,000 people), compared with the target of 70,000 households. This brought the number of EDM clients to 736,095 by the end of last year, compared with about 600,000 at the end of 2008.
The company estimates that 14.3 per cent of Mozambicans currently have electricity in their homes, compared with 12 per cent in 2008.
However, Cuambe warned that in 2009 the company lost $30 million because of sabotage by thieves stealing cables and metallic parts from pylons, and because of illegal connections to the grid.
On 18 March Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia confirmed that the dispute between the government and those donors who provide direct support to the state budget has been resolved. These 19 donors and funding agencies, known as the Programme Aid Partners (PAPs) or simply as the G-19, in May 2009 pledged $472 million in budget support for 2010. Normally disbursements begin in January – but so far this year most of the G-19 have provided nothing at all. An important exception was the World Bank – according to Finance Minister Manuel Chang, it has disbursed the $110 million in budget support that it promised.
In public the donors gave no reason for withholding the promised funds, but it is no secret that they were angered at the way the National Elections Commission (CNE) mishandled various aspects of last October’s general elections. Among the demands the donors are reported to have made are changes in the electoral legislation, legislation on conflicts of interest, and improvements in anti-corruption legislation.
Speaking to reporters, Cuereneia said the problems had been solved, and he expected the budget support to be disbursed as from April. Indeed, on 17 March the Spanish ambassador, Lopez Buesquets, reaffirmed Spanish direct budget support for 2010 of €9 million (about $12.3 million).
Cuereneia played down the friction with the donors. “There’s a negotiation. We’re partners”, he said. “Under our memorandum of understanding with the G-19, whenever there is a problem, we have to sit down and talk about it”.
Asked what the government had conceded, Cuereneia replied “the government didn’t concede anything. We came to an understanding”.
In a joint press release issued on 24 March, the two sides stated that they had reached consensus on questions of “good governance, the fight against corruption and democratic processes”.
The Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), the country’s second largest opposition force, is now certain to form an officially recognised parliamentary group, after the ruling Frelimo Party on 22 March publicly supported the MDM request.
Speaking at the opening of a sitting of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, the head of the Frelimo group, Margarida Talapa, said it was a “top priority” for the assembly to amend its standing orders to allow the MDM to form a parliamentary group (“bancada parlamentar”).
There are eight MDM deputies in the Assembly, elected in last October’s general election. However, the parliamentary standing orders state that the minimum number of deputies required to form a parliamentary group is 11.
Only parliamentary groups, and never individual deputies, have the right to appoint members to Assembly bodies such as working or ad-hoc commissions. Parliamentary groups can also table up to five questions per Assembly sitting to the government, and can also request information from the government.
Talapa agreed with the MDM that the standing orders appear to contradict the Mozambican constitution. The constitution states “the deputies elected by each party may form a parliamentary group”, and does not mention any minimum figure.
Frelimo, she said, proposed to scrap the limiting clause in the Standing Orders, and was thus “complying with our role as the party that drives democracy and inclusion”.
The matter has been before the Assembly’s Legal Affairs Commission for weeks. It was hoped that a written opinion from the Commission would be available before the start of the plenary session – but the main opposition force, Renamo, resorted to delaying tactics. Its three members on the Commission insisted on more time “to reflect”.
Renamo has called for a parliamentary ad-hoc commission to rewrite the country’s electoral legislation. Speaking at the opening session of the Assembly of the Republic, the head of the Renamo parliamentary group, Angelina Enoque, stressed that during last year’s elections “serious gaps were identified which need correction”.
This was a sensitive matter, she said, and so redrafting the laws “should seek to obtain the greatest possible consensus”.
However, her solution, to set up yet another ad-hoc commission, could well prove controversial. For just such an ad-hoc commission was set up in early 2005 to rewrite the electoral laws. It sat for 18 months and failed to produce a consensus. In fact, the only issue the ad-hoc commission discussed was the composition of the National Elections Commission (CNE).
The Renamo members of the commission never moved from their position that the CNE should be a highly politicised body, entirely dominated by the political parties, and subject to an effective Renamo veto. The ad-hoc commission had to be scrapped in May 2006, and the drafting shifted to the Assembly’s working commission on agriculture, regional development, public administration and local power.
The majority Frelimo Party is extremely wary about repeating the 2005/06 experience, and will certainly reject any body in which Renamo holds a veto. All parties in the Assembly recognise the need to rewrite the electoral laws, but this sitting will have to decide exactly how that is to be done.
Enoque denounced the October elections as “a crime”, and “a blow against democracy”, using much the same language as Renamo had used to denounce the previous elections, held in 2004.
Enoque also demanded that Frelimo branches inside the state apparatus should be abolished, and described then as “a true affront to democracy”. She said it was “a national imperative” to get rid of the Frelimo branches.
Enoque praised the long prison sentences handed down in late February to former transport minister Antonio Munguambe and others convicted of stealing funds from the publicly owned airports company, ADM. However, she added that the case “is a drop in the ocean of so many others who remain untouchable”.
Malaria remains the main cause of death in Mozambique, but HIV/AIDS is catching up. According to the National Survey on the Causes of Mortality in Mozambique (INCAM), published on 24 March by the National Statistics Institute (INE), 29 per cent of all deaths are caused by malaria, and 27 per cent by HIV/AIDS.
Peri-natal illnesses account of seven per cent of deaths, diarrhoeal diseases four per cent, pneumonia four per cent, accidents and other “external causes” four per cent, tuberculosis three per cent, and diseases of the circulatory system three per cent.
Among children under five years of age, 42 per cent of all deaths in this group are caused by malaria, 13 per cent by HIV/AIDS, six per cent by pneumonia, six per cent by diarrhoeal diseases, and two per cent by malnutrition.
If the under-fives are omitted, HIV/AIDS becomes the main cause of death among Mozambicans. Among all those older than five, 37 per cent of deaths are caused by HIV/AIDS and 19 per cent by malaria.
But there is a sharp geographical divide. HIV/AIDS is the main cause of death south of the Zambezi, and malaria the main cause north of the Zambezi.
Gaza is the province worst hit by the AIDS epidemic. 40.7 per cent of all deaths in Gaza were caused by HIV/AIDS, followed by Maputo province with 38.9 per cent, and Maputo city with 33 per cent. In all these provinces malaria accounts for less than 20 per cent of deaths (18.8 per cent in Gaza, 11.4 per cent in Maputo province, and 13.1 per cent in Maputo city).
In the north, the situation is reversed. In Nampula province 36.1 per cent of deaths are from malaria, and 18.5 per cent from HIV/AIDS. In Cabo Delgado, the figures are 30.6 per cent and 20.7 per cent, and in Niassa 32.9 per cent and 24.9 per cent.
Urban people are more likely to die of AIDS and rural people more likely to die of malaria. 31.6 per cent of deaths in urban areas were caused by HIV/AIDS and 23.7 per cent by malaria. But in the countryside, 30.9 per cent of deaths were from malaria, and 24.9 per cent from HIV/AIDS.
The survey used a sample of 10,080 households, and standardized questionnaires on cause of death developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), known as “verbal autopsies”. In these households, 11,937 people had died in the reference year (1 August 2006 to 31 July 2007).
Each verbal autopsy was analysed independently by two doctors, who drew their conclusions as to cause of death. If they disagreed, the statisticians would call the two doctors together to establish a consensus.
The Mozambican government on 18 March signed a Memorandum of Understanding with several donors to implement the National Decentralised Planning and Finance Programme (PNFPD) in all 128 districts in the country.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, the Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia, said the programme will be carried out over the five-year period 2010-2014, and is budgeted at $46.3 million. The money will be provided by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Germany, Ireland, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Cuereneia said that these six partners will channel their contributions into a common fund, to be handled through the Mozambican treasury.
Previous decentralization programmes have focused on specific provinces. Cuereneia recalled that there was a programme for Nampula province and a separate one from Manica, each with their own funding agencies and reporting procedures.
Now, however, the Memorandum establishes “a single, national programme”, said Cuereneia. “Unlike the previous programmes, this will cover all the districts”.
The programme will support implementation of the government’s district development fund, still commonly known as “the seven million” – because it started, in 2006, with an allocation from the central budget of seven million meticais (about $252,000) to each of the 128 districts to fund projects to increase food security and create jobs.
Under the national programme, members of the District Consultative Councils, the bodies that decide on how the district funds are allocated, will be given training so that they can take their decisions based on technical knowledge.
According to Cuereneia, the programme aims to ensure “the careful application, on the basis of community priorities, of local and deconcentrated budgetary resources”, as well as “the effective functioning of the local governance apparatus”.
The programme will also “build the capacity of district government technical staff in participatory planning, and in drawing up strategic and operational plans”.
Speaking on behalf of the six partners, Dutch ambassador Frans Bijvoet said they were pleased that they could now pass the management of these funds over to the government after ten years in which they had individually supported isolated decentralisation projects.
He praised the government’s decision to set up the district development fund. “The transfer of state funds to the districts, as from 2006, is a recognition of the districts’ needs to have their own discretionary funds for their social and economic development”.
In allocating funds for the programme to a common fund, channelled through a single treasury account, “the partners recognise the importance of strengthening existing national mechanisms and of not establishing parallel mechanisms”, he said.
The programme will be monitored every year, he said, and its progress will be discussed between the government and its partners based on agreed performance indicators.
A new international airport is to be built in Pemba, the capital of the northern province of Cabo Delgado, as the cost of expanding and modernizing the existing one is about the same as that of building a new one.
The publicly owned airports company, ADM, regards Pemba as among its top priorities, and so the company will shortly launch a public tender to select a suitable contractor to do the job.
During a visit to ADM on 24 March, Prime Minister Aires Aly explained that the original idea was to expand and modernize the existing Pemba airport, so that it could deal with growing traffic. The demand for international flights is growing continuously, and ADM studies concluded that the existing infrastructures of Pemba airport are not capable of responding fully to the demand.
ADM told Aly that the site for the new airport has already been identified, and funds are available.
Aly said that the building of the new Pemba airport is one of the main points on the agenda of the government’s five-year programme in terms of extending and modernizing airport infrastructures.
As part of the airport infrastructures programme, ADM has started work to convert Vilankulo aerodrome, in the southern province of Inhambane, into an international airport, and is also working on the main airports in Beira, Chimoio, Tete and Quelimane.
Meanwhile, it has been announced that the first phase of the expansion and modernization of Maputo International Airport will be complete by 31 May. Almost complete is the new control tower, international passenger terminal, and presidential VIP lounge. Once this work is completed, building will begin on a new domestic passenger terminal.
Initially the work was budgeted at $70 million, but this has shot up to $134 million.
On the advice of the country’s relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC), the Mozambican government on 23 March lifted the red alert on the main river basins in the centre of the country.
The red alert was imposed on 10 March in response to serious flooding in the basins of the Zambezi, Pungue and Buzi rivers.
The waters are now subsiding, so the government has reduced the level of alert from red to orange.
The flooding directly affected 15,917 people and caused six deaths. The waters destroyed 2,382 homes, and damaged 53 classrooms, 11 places of worship and four health posts.
The Mozambican government’s National Demining Institute (IND) intends to start classifying districts as “free of land mines” as part of its 2008-2014 National Mine Action Plan.
According to IND director Julio Braga, speaking in Maputo on 25 March at the opening of the 11th Annual Meeting with the government’s demining partners, the declaration of whole districts as “free of mines” seeks to confer “greater visibility and transparency on the demining operations under way”.
He added that currently 63 of the country’s 128 districts could be declared “free of mines”. Work is under way in those districts, inquiring from communities as to whether there are still any areas suspected of containing mines.
Braga said that in 2009, the demining teams cleared 117 mine-affected areas covering a total area of 3.7 million square metres.
However, the latest research indicates that there are still 322 mined areas in the country, covering 9.4 million square metres of land. As long as the land mine threat is present, that land cannot be used for agriculture or any other economic activities.
Research along the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border, Braga added, indicated the presence of minefields covering 2.9 million square metres, “with a direct impact on the security of the border communities of the two countries”
Land mines are still killing and maiming in Mozambique over 17 years after the end of the war of destabilisation. According to Braga, mine explosions killed 15 people and injured a further four in 2009.
He stressed that the IND will continue to run mine awareness programmes in all communities at risk, in order to reduce the number of such accidents.
For demining operations in 2010, said Braga, $7.3 million has guaranteed from the state budget and from those donors who contribute to the Mine Action Programme. The IND’s target for 2010 is to work on 172 areas suspected of being mined, covering 5.1 million square metres.
Under the Ottawa Convention outlawing anti-personnel land mines, which has now been signed by 156 countries, Mozambique had until 2009 to complete demining. However, this proved impossible, and Mozambique was granted a five-year extension, to 2014.
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