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Portugal Gives Aga Khan Foundation Euro 1 Million to Alleviate Rural Poverty in Mozambique


Maputo, Mozambique, 14 December 2001 – The Portuguese Agency for Development (Agência Portuguesa para o Apoio ao Desenvolvimento) (APAD) has approved a grant of one million Euros for a long-term rural development programme launched by the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and aimed at some 120,000 people in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado.

The North Coast Rural Support Programme (NCRSP), initiated by the Aga Khan Foundation (Portugal) last year, seeks to improve the lives of the rural communities in a sustainable and equitable manner by reinforcing their capacity to plan and manage their social and economic development. Programme activities include the creation and reinforcement of organisational structures at community level, management of natural resources, interventions in the agricultural, fishery and husbandry sectors, and community management of forests and fauna, as well as of savings and credit schemes.

“Building human capacity and social infrastructure, and improving the use of the area’s natural resources are key priorities for the NCRSP,” said Mr. Nazim Ahmad, the Aga Khan Development Network Representative for Mozambique. Acknowledging the support that the APAD grant will provide, he went on to note that “five micro-projects that are already underway and that benefit some 10,000 people include: the improvement of cashew production, the introduction of sesame cultivation, the distribution of fishing nets and boats, support for artisanal production and fisheries, and training initiatives for fishermen and farmers.”

The APAD grant will contribute towards funding the Programme’s activities in the Quissanga district and on the island of Ibo for the coming three years. The Programme will, at a later stage, be extended to other coastal districts of Northern Mozambique. The Government of Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has also contributed to the Programme.

The Programme area is one of the country’s poorest and least developed in the country with a population that has very limited access to social services and markets. Other concerns include deficient use of natural resources, limited qualified manpower, and investment in basic social infrastructure that is well below the levels required for sustainable development. Education is a particular priority. Literacy amongst women stands at 7% - amongst the lowest in the country. More than 60% of girls over six years of age have never been to school. There is a serious shortage of trained teachers and school construction is inadequate.

AKF’s approach to rural development emphasises the strengthening of local institutions at village level as essential requirements for sustainability. The creation or reinforcement of the organisational structures in rural communities assure that it is the beneficiary communities themselves that make or control decisions pertaining to activities such as managing saving and credit schemes, management of natural resources, the creation and maintenance of productive infrastructures, the introduction of techniques to increase agricultural production and the development of professional competencies.

NCRSP is one of several integrated rural development programmes that have been established or supported by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in South and Central Asia and Eastern Africa over the past two decades and more. Similar programmes exist in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Pakistan and Tajikistan.

Other AKDN initiatives underway in Mozambique include the construction by the Aga Khan Education Service, Mozambique of a high quality bilingual (Portuguese and English) school to cater to approximately 1,400 students, a training programme for officers in the public administration and support from the Aga Khan University for the establishment of a Faculty of Biomedical Sciences at the Catholic University of Beira.

Notes:
The Aga Khan Foundation, which focuses on health, education, rural development and the enhancement of non-governmental organisations, is an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network. The Network consists of eight non-profit, non-denominational development agencies. The other agencies are: Aga Khan Health Services, which provides primary and curative health care in India, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, and Syria; Aga Khan Education Services, which operates more than 300 schools and advanced educational programmes at the pre-school, primary, secondary and higher secondary levels in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Tajikistan; the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, which provides material, technical assistance and construction management services for rural and urban areas; and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which focuses on culture as a means to enhance the physical, social and economic revitalisation of communities in the Islamic world. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, a for-profit agency also registered in Switzerland, works to strengthen the role of the private sector in developing countries by promoting entrepreneurial activity and supporting private sector initiatives. Two universities are also part of the Network: Aga Khan University, Pakistan's first private, autonomous university, which is headquartered in Karachi; and the University of Central Asia (UCA), which is the world's first university dedicated exclusively to education and research on mountain regions and societies.

For more information, please visit the website: http://www.akdn.org/

For further information, regarding the rural development programme in Mozambique, please contact:
Aga Khan Foundation (Mozambique)
Dr. Karim Merali
Chief Executive Officer
Tel: +258.82.300265

Aga Khan Foundation (Portugal)
Dr. Ana Santos
Programme Director
Ismaili Centre, 1, Avenida Lusiada, 1600-001 Lisbon, Portugal
Tel: (351.21) 722 9001 
Fax: (351.21) 7229011

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