Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, 23 November 2007 - His Highness the Aga Khan, founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, yesterday visited development projects in remote areas of Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province -- one of the poorest and most isolated in the country.
The Aga Khan toured the Natugo village, a settlement of mud and bamboo huts inside the Quissanga National Park populated by 755 people, virtually all of them Sunni Muslims. The entire population gathered at the main square to greet the Ismaili leader who congratulated the villagers on the progress they have made in improving living conditions over the past few years and urged them to send more of their children to school. The Aga Khan Development Network has been active in the village since 2003, managing education and poverty reduction projects.
The village chief, Henriques Gutura, said the villagers were better off today than a few years ago with a decent school building, an early education programme and more modern land tilling techniques. “For us, the Aga Khan presence means that we have better health, more education and better agricultural techniques,” he said.
Later in the day, the Aga Khan then flew by helicopter to the remote Ibo Island, just north of the small town of Pemba in the Quirimbas Archipelago where he was warmly received by villagers and the Island’s administrator. At the Ibo Fort, he spent time with several villagers who had benefited from loans from the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM). They included traditional silversmiths who had maintained their exceptional filigree work skills, carpenter groups, fisherman, and crafts groups, all of whom had increased their standards of living in the last few years as a result of small loans. “I used to have a thatched roof, and now I have a corrugated iron roof,” said one fisherman.