Mozambique’s great potential for growth has yet to be fulfilled
The Republic of Mozambique is a country situated in south-eastern Africa. A brutal civil war that lasted from 1977 to 1992, corruption, political mismanagement and natural disasters hindered development in Mozambique for a fairly long time.
At the SOS Children’s Village school (photo: S. Kitshoff)
In 1990, a new constitution was introduced, laying the path for free multiparty elections and a market-driven economy.
Today, Mozambique is considered a country of huge economic potential. In spite of the fact that the economy is still largely based on agriculture, untapped gas, oil and titanium reserves represent a growing source of income and continue to attract investors from abroad. The country's capital is Maputo, an important port city of 1.8 million.
Even for Sub-Saharan Africa standards, Mozambique is a very poor country. 60 per cent of its population live in crippling poverty. They are struggling to cover even their most basic needs, such as running water, proper sanitation and regular access to food. Female-headed households are particularly affected by high levels of poverty as many Mozambican women are badly educated. Income distribution remains highly unequal in a country where the richest ten per cent control roughly 40 per cent of the national household income.
A few years after peace could be secured in Mozambique, disastrous floods destroyed much of the country's infrastructure during a time in which it was slowly rebuilding itself. Rural Mozambique is frequently affected by droughts. Famine is widespread and many locals suffer from illnesses that are directly related to it. For the average Mozambican, life expectancy at birth is as low as 52 years. The country has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the entire world: 11.5 per cent of the population are HIV-positive, meaning that roughly 1,400,000 Mozambicans are living with the disease. Shortage of food is another significant problem in Mozambique. In 2010, massive riots broke out over rising bread prices. Due to international financial speculation, wheat prices were going up dramatically at the time. Consequently, the poorest segments of population found it even more difficult to put food on the table for their families.
Millions of children have lost parental care
Young children playing in the SOS Children’s Villages Kindergarten (photo: SOS archives)
Mozambique is a strikingly young nation: Nearly half the country's population is under 14 years of age. Despite rapid and sustained improvements in terms of general economic development, many children are still facing a life full of hardships. Almost half of Mozambique's 10 million children are living in conditions of extreme poverty. In Maputo, where public services are generally more accessible, the number of poor children is noticeably lower than in rural areas of the country. However, over recent years, more and more children have been growing up without parental care. Approximately one fourth of Mozambique's 2,100,000 orphans have lost their parents due to the persistent HIV/AIDS pandemic that the country has been facing. Orphans are less likely to attend school on a regular basis as many of them have to engage in labour activities in order to eke out a living. Many orphaned children end up in the streets of major cities, where criminal activities, drug abuse and commercial sex work become part of their everyday life.
At 88 per 1,000 live births, the country's infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the entire world. Although there have been impressive steps forward in terms of school enrolment, 24 per cent of children aged between 7 and 17 are still experiencing severe education deprivation. Hundreds of thousands of children in Mozambique never attend school. At least a basic level of education is of considerable importance for growth and development and empowers the child to break the vicious circle of poverty when becoming an adult.
SOS Children's Villages in Mozambique
SOS Children's Villages became active in Mozambique in the year 1986. Tete was chosen as the location for the first SOS Children's village. At present, our organisation is supporting Mozambican young people and children by providing day care, education, medical services and vocational training. Children whose parents cannot take care of them will find a loving home in one of the SOS families.
SOS Children’s Villages has also responded to the natural disasters – storms, floods and droughts - that often affect the country. We have supported vulnerable women, families and children with food, shelter and basic medical care. In the aftermath of floods, we have also ensured a supply of safe drinking water and introduced measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Most recently, in February 2017, cyclone Dineo caused extensive damage in some areas of the country. Over 100,000 homes were totally or partially destroyed and over 551,000 people were in urgent need of assistance. Health care centres and schools were damaged. As well as providing immediate support, shelter and sanitation facilities, SOS Children’s Villages also planned to rebuild schools and care for children who had lost parental care.