Mozambique News Agency

No.304, 9th September 2005


Combating malnutrition is investment in development

Deputy Agriculture Minister Caterine Pajume on 5 September urged all involved in the struggle against malnutrition to remember that "fighting against hunger and malnutrition is not a waste, but an investment in the country's development".

Speaking in Maputo during a symposium on the fight against abject poverty through food and nutritional security, Pajume insisted that hunger and chronic malnutrition are a vicious cycle that worsens absolute poverty. "Hunger and malnutrition produce cumulative and irreversible effects that will be reflected in difficulties for our children to learn at school and expose them to diseases and early death during their first five years of life", she said.

Pajume warned that time cannot be wasted before breaking the vicious cycle of hunger and malnutrition, explaining that it "mutilates" human and social capital.

The symposium is taking place at a time when drought has reached alarming proportions, both in Mozambique and other countries in southern Africa. According to the Food Security and Nutritional Technical Secretariat (SETSANE), at least 428,000 people in 32 districts of central and southern regions of Mozambique are suffering from this natural disaster, and another 159,000 people are set to need food assistance in the next two months.

Data from a health demographic inquiry in 2003 show that about 1.3 million children under the age of five are suffering from chronic malnutrition in the country, a figure that is feared to have increased since then.

Pajume said that the fight against chronic malnutrition is essential, and it should be carried out through a combination of specific policies to directly benefit the affected families in terms of both physical and economic access to food, which means bringing the food market closer to the people, and giving them more buying power.

She noted that local initiatives, such as food-for-work, and school lunches for children, which are being implemented in different regions in the country are examples for concrete interventions against malnutrition.

The symposium was to promote a debate on the relation between hunger and absolute poverty, and to present the results of an Assessment of the Implementation of the Food Security and Nutrition Strategy in the Development Process of Mozambique.

Graca Machel calls for end to dependency

During the symposium Graca Machel, the Patron of the Foundation for Community Development (FDC), stated that Mozambique has all the necessary natural conditions to banish hunger. However, she pointed out that "our current reality is showing the contrary. We have hunger in Mozambique in such a way that we even need food aid".

Machel called on Mozambicans to learn how to create their own reserves to supply the less privileged areas. "Our neighbour's barn will never kill our hunger, hence, it is necessary that we have our own barn", she said.

Machel recalled that there are areas in Mozambique where people will produce enough to export, while in other areas of the same country some other people are starving and calling for foreign food aid. The paradox is that the national excess production cannot reach those in need because of poor infrastructure and lower cost imports.

The results of the 2003 study showed that rather than improving, chronic malnutrition in Mozambique has been worsening in the last five years, having increased from 36 to 41 per cent since 1997. The northern Cabo Delgado province is the most affected, with a record of 56 per cent malnutrition rate among children under five.

Chinese buses and medicines to be imported

On 1 September Prime Minister Luisa Diogo held talks with her Chinese counterpart in Beijing, resulting in an agreement which will see Mozambique importing buses, medicines and other hospital equipment directly from China.

Speaking during her five day visit Prime Minister Diogo said that there is a "very clear advantage" in direct imports. "We have been importing and using a wide range of medicines through indirect imports through Europe, America and other markets, and we have been paying twice or three times more than we do in direct imports. It makes no sense at all that we continue importing through intermediaries when we can do it directly at a lower cost", said the Prime Minister.

According to Deputy Health Minister Aida Libombo, who accompanied Diogo to China, during her meetings she asked that China sends specialist doctors to work in Sofala province, in addition to those who are now working in the Maputo Central Hospital. This is to be followed up by Health Minister Ivo Garrido, who is to visit China in the next few months.

Regarding the import of buses, Mozambican Ambassador to China Antonio Inacio Junior said that Mozambique is to purchase 70 units in the first stage, which would operate in Maputo city. Junior said that during the talks he came to understand that with the same quality, Mozambique can purchase buses at about half the price compared with those purchased in Europe or other parts of the world.

Should US seek Mozambican disaster advice?

By Joe Hanlon

The shocking images of flood-ravaged New Orleans may recall for many Mozambicans their own experiences in February 2000, when every major river south of Beira burst its banks, and vast areas of southern Mozambique were under water. But although Mozambique remains one of the poorest countries in the world, while the United States is the richest, the Mozambican flood crisis was handled efficiently, quite unlike the chaos that overtook New Orleans. In the following article, London based writer Joseph Hanlon, co-author of a book on the floods of 2000, suggests that in the area of disaster response the United States has much to learn from Mozambique.

Mozambique should offer aid to the United States on how to deal with floods. In 2000, southern Mozambique had its worst flood in 150 years - similar to the seriousness of Hurricane Katrina in the United States. In Mozambique five years ago, 550,000 people were displaced, of whom 45,000 were rescued by boats and helicopters; 700 people died. But organisation in "underdeveloped" Mozambique was much better than in New Orleans, with less loss of life. Three things made the difference: training and planning, community solidarity, and a willingness to ask for help quickly.

Mozambique is subject to severe cyclones, just as the southern US normally faces severe hurricanes. In 1999, after much less severe floods, Mozambique launched a major training exercise involving simulations of rescue and relief operations. Training included volunteer organisations such as the Mozambique Flying Club, an association of private pilots. Relief goods were stockpiled in areas at risk, including hundreds of tons of food and medicines. The Red Cross gave extra training to its volunteers and created stocks of tents and plastic sheeting. District, provincial and national flood committees were created.

Flood warnings heeded

Although floods were predicted, no one expected the scale of the flooding that occurred, which resulted from three successive major cyclones. The water just kept rising. As with Katrina, Mozambique had some warning from the weather forecasters, and two days before the floods the government activated its flood committee, chaired by then Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao. He and his committee were already prepared, and could move quickly.

More areas were evacuated. But the key to the evacuation in Mozambique, which made it so different from New Orleans, were that most people were evacuated in groups by local leaders. Tent cities were created on high ground, but with people from particular neighbourhoods all living together. Chokwe, in Gaza province, was the largest city to be totally evacuated, and the city administration moved as a group and continued to administer the new tent city. Health workers, the Red Cross and local administrations moved to care for those fleeing high water.

The contrast with New Orleans is obvious. Officials in the American city seem to have ignored community leaders and made no effort to include them in evacuation planning, at least in the poorest areas.

Not everyone fled the flood-stricken areas of southern Mozambique quickly enough; 45,000 people were saved by boats. The Mozambican military rescued 18,000 people with small boats; the Red Cross, the fire service, and private boat owners and fishing people rescued another 12,000.

Trained local volunteers moved quickly. For example the Mozambique Flying Club established a stretch of road on the edge of the flood as a landing strip, and began flying supplies to isolated areas. This improvised airstrip was used for 3,000 flights. This is in stark contrast to the TV pictures of highways in New Orleans which could easily have been used by small planes but which were not.

Thousands of Mozambicans volunteered to help, and they were put to work - through the Red Cross, setting up emergency feeding, or just helping to unload lorries.

Early call for help saved lives

But the third key factor was Mozambique's use of outside help. Even before the floods, Mozambique had made plans with the South African air force and with United Nations agencies such as UNICEF. Daily contact was maintained with the South Africans, which set up a special budget to pay for possible aid, so the helicopters were flying in within one day of the worst flooding; in all, they rescued 14,000 people. Even while the flood waters were still rising, prior agreements with United Nations agencies were activated, so there was immediate help with food, and most importantly, water purification and sanitation. As the international press arrived to broadcast the disaster, Mozambique made clear that outside help was welcome. Agencies like Oxfam and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF - Doctors without Borders) who have experience of working in natural disasters, moved quickly and were helping displaced people within days.

But the outsiders quickly found when they arrived that there was an organisation on the ground. When Oxfam arrived with its water purification systems, local officials told Oxfam where they were most needed. Local officials planned food distribution. Volunteer health workers joined in Of course there were mistakes and confusion. And some bad things happened. There was looting - although not very much. And there was a serious problem of donations of useless and out of date medicines. But the priority was to get people to safety and provide them with shelter, food, clean water and latrines.

No one predicted the worse flood in 150 years. But in Mozambique, planning, local organisation and community solidarity, and a willingness to ask for help, saved thousands of lives. Should Mozambique offer aid to the United States in flood management?

Joseph Hanlon is the co-author, with Frances Christie, of "Mozambique and the Great Flood of 2000", published by James Currey (Oxford) in 2001

Eight killed in Mocimboa da Praia violence

Mocimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado province is returning to normal after violent clashes between supporters of Renamo and the police left eight people dead and 47 injured. Supporters of the main opposition party Renamo were protesting against the results of the 31 May municipal elections which gave victory to the candidate from the ruling Frelimo party.

According to Interior Minister Jose Pacheco, who visited the scene on 7 and 8 September, the dead and injured were "victims of a premeditated action". The Minister added that the police had only used tear gas, and had not resorted to lethal force. The police have arrested five people, all members of Renamo, in connection with the disturbances.

Mocimboa da Praia mayor Amadeu Pedro was cited by Radio Mozambique on 6 September as saying that the disturbances were headed by provincial Renamo political delegate in Cabo Delgado, Armindo Milaco, who was allegedly seen carrying two guns around town, inciting people to violence.

Renamo seems to harbour a particular hatred for Pedro, because he was once the Renamo delegate in Mocimboa da Praia, and then defected to Frelimo. Renamo also protests that he was born not in Mocimboa da Praia, but in the neighbouring district of Mueda.

Renamo national spokesperson Fernando Mazanga, gave a press conference a different account of the incident, and claimed that disturbances began when Frelimo members in the town "ambushed" Renamo supporters. Mazanga alleged that on 6 September Frelimo supporters broke into the Renamo offices and, in the presence of the police, murdered two people (a young woman and an old man).

The violence in Mocimboa da Praia began on 5 September, the day after Renamo held a mock swearing-in ceremony for their losing candidate Saide Assane, chaired by Augusto Mateus, of the Renamo central leadership, and was followed by the appointment of a "municipal government".

In response to this theatre, Frelimo said that it is "juridically null and void", and with no effect at all.

Speaking to reporters on 7 September, the Frelimo Central Committee Secretary for Mobilisation and Propaganda, Edson Macuacua, said that "it is regrettable that, at a time when the Mozambican people are united in the struggle against poverty, Renamo speaks of war with so much nostalgia. This shows that Renamo is isolated from the national agenda".

President Mugabe rejects Chissano's mediation

Former President Joaquim Chissano confirmed in Gaberone on 16 August that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has rejected him as mediator to help solve the political crisis in his country, on the grounds that he does not intend to hold any negotiations with the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Changes (MDC).

Addressing a press conference during the Special Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to mark the organisation's 25th anniversary, Chissano said that President Mugabe told him over the phone that he could not find any reason for a mediator, a task with which Chissano had been charged by the African Union's chairperson, Olusegun Obasanjo.

Asked whether Chissano thinks that Zimbabwe needs SADC or the AU to help out in its crisis, he replied that regardless of his opinion, it is up to the Zimbabwean people to take such a decision. He recalled that when Mozambique went through the 16 year war of destabilisation it took himself and the leadership of the then rebel movement Renamo to decide for a dialogue.

"Before we had accepted the need for dialogue, nobody could force us into talks to end the war. In the case of Zimbabwe, there is no war. I think that Mugabe's rejection is based on the understanding that their problems do not yet need any foreign help", said Chissano.

"They even had a civil war, between Mugabe's followers and those of Joshua Nkomo. They found an agreement between themselves, culminating in the appointment of Nkomo as deputy President. Until then all seemed at lost", he explained.

Chissano conceded that there are problems in Zimbabwe, but reiterated that it is up to the Zimbabweans to solve them or seek foreign help. He explained that the question is not whether or not there are problems in that country, but whether the leaders, including Mugabe, have the same understanding of them as does, for instance, Olusegun Obasanjo, who thinks that it is time to seek for foreign help.

"If my mediation had been accepted by all interested parties, my first action would be to discuss with each of them which problems they would like me to help them solve. This is because there are many problems in Zimbabwe, including land reform, accusations of electoral fraud, and demolition of alleged illegal houses", he said.

He added that "all of this is being interpreted differently by different people, and I would have to meet with each party to learn which of these problems they would want me to help solve first. But Mugabe has already told me that he does not think the country needs my mediation now, because he is not prepared to talk to the opposition, and thus my mission ended before it had started ".

EU launches tender for Zambezi bridge

The European Union has launched an international tender for the building of a bridge over the Zambezi River, linking the south, centre and north of the country through Caia and Chimuara, in Sofala and Zambezia provinces.

The bridge will be 16 metres wide and 2,376 metres long, with four lanes, two for vehicles and the other two for bicycles, motorbikes and pedestrians.

The works, due to last 36 months, have a guaranteed budget of $80 million granted by the EU, specifically from Sweden and Italy, along with funds from Japan and the Mozambican government.

Best cashew harvest in 25 years

Mozambique's cashew nut harvest from the 2004/05 season was the best in quarter of a century, according to Raimundo Matule, deputy director of the government's National Cashew Institute (INCAJU). Speaking to reporters on 27 July, Matule put total cashew production at 102,000 tonnes, of which 60,000 tonnes was exported raw to India, and 14,310 tonnes was purchased by small Mozambican processing plants. The rest was being consumed locally, or held as stocks.

He attributed the good harvest to a favourable climate, the planting of new cashew trees in recent years, and to the spraying of older trees against fungal diseases.

The 14,310 tonnes of nuts bought by the factories will produce about 2,800 to 3,000 tonnes of cashew kernels, sold in export markets in the United States, Europe and the Middle East - earning about $11 million.

Matule was optimistic about the future for cashew. with world demand for cashew kernels growing at around ten per cent a year, and currently prices are stable.

New markets are opening up - this year Mozambican cashews were sold to Lebanon for the first time. INCAJU is also studying the potentially enormous Chinese market.

There are now 22 cashew processing plants in the country, most of them in the Nampula province. They have the capacity to deal with 23,790 tonnes of nuts a year (which would produce about 4,760 tonnes of cashew kernels).

These are all small factories, using largely manual methods to shell the nuts. None of the large mechanised factories show any sign of re-opening. The 15 large factories were forced to close down when the World Bank imposed its infamous 1995 diktat, ordering Mozambique to strip the cashew industry of protection. This completely altered the conditions under which Mozambican businesses had purchased the factories from the state a year earlier.

Quite explicitly the World Bank was in favour of exporting raw nuts to India, thus overturning the long established policy that the priority was to supply the local processing plants first, and export only whatever raw nuts were left over.

87,000 AIDS orphans in Mozambique

A report from the National Statistics Institute (INE) has revealed that 87,000 children have been orphaned in Mozambique as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

According to INE delegate to Manica, Amelia Nakhare, about 70,000 people of different ages, but mostly adults, died of AIDS by the year 2002, leaving a large number of orphaned children. She explained that most orphans are found in the central region of the country, where her institution counted 58,000 orphans, compared with 21,000 in the southern region, and 8,000 in the north.

The central region also has the largest number of deaths from AIDS, with 44,000, followed by the south, with 17,900 and 6,600 in the northern region.

Nakhare said that those figures can be explained by the respective HIV/AIDS prevalence rates - 16.7 per cent in the central region, 14.8 per cent in the south, and 8.4 in the north.

In terms of provinces, she said that Sofala, is the most affected, followed by Manica, Tete, and Zambezia, all in the central region.

In the south, Maputo is leading, with17.3 per cent, followed by Gaza, 15.4 per cent, and Inhambane, with 8.5 per cent, while in the northern region, the highest infection rates are found in Niassa, 11.1, Cabo Delgado, comes second, 8.1, and then Nampula, with 7.5 per cent.

HIV/AIDS killing police officers

Deputy Interior Minister Jose Mandra has revealed that the HIV/AIDS pandemic has aggravated staff shortage within the police, killing about 1,000 officers every year.

Speaking on 15 August in Maputo during the opening session of a meeting of the Management Council of the Immigration National Directorate, Mandra warned that "we are going through difficult times, with the number of infections and deaths by HIV/AIDS increasing by the day. We lose a over 1,000 officers every year".

The Deputy Minister urged the participants of the summit to do all in their power to relieve the suffering of their infected colleagues and to check the trend of infections and deaths.

Mandra also expressed concern over gender inequality within his ministry, saying that in this issue the Interior Ministry is still far from reaching the government's recommendations. He said that his ministry has established 2009 as the target to have at least 25 per cent of the ministry's staff made up of women, 15 per cent of whom should be in decision-making positions. However this must be met whilst following "fair and transparent criteria, based on qualifications and competence".

National park to open in Sofala

The Tourism Ministry (MICTUR) is set to establish a new national park in Sofala province before the end of next year. The park, which will also cover the districts of Pebane, in Zambezia province, Moma and Angoche in Nampula province, will be named "Ilhas Primarias e Secondarias" will cover an area of 8,226 square kilometres.

Raimundo Matusse, a wildlife expert with the Tourism Ministry, told reporters that they have already identified the delimitations of what is to be the ninth national park.

Matusse said that a multisectorial team, which includes experts from the Tourism, Transport and Communications, Mineral Resources, Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment, and State Administration Ministries, Eduardo Mondlane University and the WWF will conduct preliminary studies on the park's socio-economic and environmental impact.

Matusse also said that another park is to be established in Niassa Province.

Meanwhile, a border post is to be opened in October in the locality of Geryondo, on the frontier with Zimbabwe, about 90 kilometres to the west of Gaza province, to facilitate the circulation of tourists in the Great Limpopo Cross-Border Initiative. The Cross-Border Limpopo Park encompasses the Limpopo Park, in Mozambique, the National Kruger Park, in South Africa, and the Gonarhezu Park, in Zimbabwe.

This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact

Mozambique News Agency

c/o 114 Stanford Avenue Brighton BN1 6FE UK.

Tel: +44 (0) 7941 890630,

email: Mozambique News Agency

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