Some Background on Mozambique

Map of MozambiqueI’ve been here for nearly a month now and thought it was about time I write about Mozambique itself. Mozambique is located on the south-east coast of Africa, just above South Africa and below Tanzania (check out the map I’ve posted on flickr). I am currently in Nampula, which is in the north of the country, about 3 hours inland from the coast and a 2.5 hr flight from the capital, Maputo. Pemba, which we visited a week ago, is further north on the coast. Mozambique has a total population of 21.4 million and the official language is Portuguese (one of 5 African countries). It is a former Portuguese colony and Portuguese traditions and culinary tastes still remain. It gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

Mozambique is ranked 175th on the Human Development Index, out of the 179 countries ranked in 2008. The only countries falling below Mozambique are Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia. 75% of the population live below the national poverty line, of $1.25 per day. Life expectancy is 42 years and the rate of HIV/AIDS is 16% (in some regions this is as high as 26% as a result of transport corridors between neighbouring countries and Mozambique’s ports). Between 1977 and 1992, Mozambique experienced a long civil war, and evidence of the atrocities can be seen in the number of people in the streets who have lost limbs as a result of landmines. Mozambique is recovering well from this war and has achieved an average growth rate of 8% per year since 1996. The adult literacy rate is 39%.

As you can see, Mozambique is a very poor country. Most of the population survives from subsistence farming. Only 42% of the population has access to clean water and in rural areas this is even lower, at 26%. Our project aims to provide 600 water points in rural areas of two northern provinces in the next 4 years, which will provide 300,000 people with access to clean water. However, providing water is not as simple as drilling a borehole, installing a handpump and moving on to the next community. This does not result in sustainable infrastructure. Communities must take ownership of their systems and learn how to operate and maintain them. In addition, a water project is most effective when it is combined with improved sanitation (latrines) and hygiene education. Only when all these aspects are combined will there be lasting impact at the community level.

Our project will combine these aspects using a demand responsive approach. In other words – communities have to want and ask for the new water point. The communities are notified of the project and the requirements for participation (communities must elect a water committee and raise funds to contribute to the cost of the water point, for example). Then they have to submit an application to the district government. Participating communities will undergo training in operations, maintenance, health, hygiene and sanitation. In addition, we will train local mechanics for handpump repair, local artisans for latrine construction and develop a spare parts chain so that communities have access to spare parts for the pumps. As I have indicated in other posts, we are currently in the planning stages of the project and we will submit our plan at the end of the month, then immediately start implementation.

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Posted in mozambique | travel | work Submitted by Meg on Sat, 2009-07-18 15:31

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