Development in Rural Areas
In response to the extreme poverty and isolation facing rural communities of northern Mozambique, AKF created the Coastal Rural Support Programme in the province of Cabo Delgado in 2001.
To date, the programme has worked in partnership with the communities to improve the livelihoods of approximately 25,000 households. It has supported agricultural training and provided an array of inputs that offer alternatives to the slash-and-burn subsistence farming methods employed by local populations. The programme currently works in over 190 villages in five districts and supports more than 25,000 households to improve their quality of life.
As in programmes of the Aga Khan Foundation in Asia and East Africa, the essential building blocks for sustainable development remain the village organisation. Over 60 Village Development Organisations (VDOs), formed with assistance from AKF, are currently active in the programme area. The VDOs mobilise community resources, identify priorities and resolve problems.
One of the first priorities identified by many VDOs was finding markets for surplus production. Without markets for their goods, farmers were reluctant to produce surpluses - a reluctance that resulted in the stifling of economic exchange.
To resolve this problem, the Foundation has integrated marketing into its rural development programme. It has fostered the establishment of farmers’ cooperatives by linking maize, sesame and rice farmers with agri-businesses in Pemba and Nampula. On Ibo Island, it has linked fruit and vegetable farmers with restaurants and hotels on the mainland. It has also worked to solve a major impediment to trade - transport - by arranging for alternative methods (in some cases, buyers provide the transport) of bringing goods to market.
Agricultural and Marine Productivity Gains
Marketing efforts have gone hand in hand with projects designed to increase agricultural output and quality, which have helped to boost agricultural earnings from US$30,000 in 2005 to US$600,000 in 2006. The efforts have encompassed:
An internal mid-term evaluation in 2008 confirmed many successes in the programme’s interventions. The number of households eating one meal or less per day (during the “hungry” season) fell from 24 percent in 2003 to 18 percent in 2008.
Also during the hungry season, the number of households with an acceptable diet rose from nine percent in 2003 to 24 percent in 2008. While only 13 percent of households were sending their children to primary school in 2003, 67 percent now report that their boys and girls are attending schools. Whereas almost no pre-schools existed prior to CRSP(M)'s interventions, now 13 percent of households send their children to the over 70 pre-schools in the programme area.
Vaccination levels have increased dramatically since 2003, with large increases in the number of children immunised from illnesses such as polio and measles. Also, the percentage of children sleeping under bed nets rose to 49 percent from 7 percent in 2003.
With the focus on improving the quality of life of communities, the Habitat Initiative - a programme within CRSP(M) - is facilitating communities’ ability to undertake significant improvements to their built environment.
Housing in the project area is largely of poor quality, lacking sufficient light, ventilation and vulnerable to environmental elements. Typically, houses here have an average lifespan of only five years, often deteriorating rapidly because of failing roofs. By working with rural community organisations to build 15 ecologically- constructed learning centres, the initiative is drawing on traditional techniques and developing innovative skills that improve the use and encourage the sustainability of naturally available materials. For example, communities are being taught how to create improved bamboo framing systems by treating the bamboo with cashew oil to avoid pest attacks, and forming the bamboo into strong beams in order to create larger, more durable structures.
In order to enhance community knowledge and skills, community groups are involved closely in the planning, design and construction of the learning centres. The initiative is also supporting the creation of local ecological building construction associations as well as entrepreneurs in order to meet future demand, thereby enhancing economic opportunities as well as promoting improved structures in the region.
Entrepreneur Development Initiative
Established in 2007, the Entrepreneur Development Initiative (EDI) takes a market development approach to facilitate the development of micro and small enterprises. EDI acts as a knowledge broker and a capacity builder, employing a small team of market development specialists to build on the potential of producers, entrepreneurs, and private sector support systems in northern Mozambique.
EDI focuses on research and learning, and conducting value chain analysis in strategic sub-sectors and invests in local capacity to provide market support services and capitalise on emerging opportunities by training both its own staff and promising partners in the private sector, other NGOs and government. EDI works in various sectors and sub-sectors to engage in and facilitate the provision of services at key points along the value chains of these sectors. It provides both direct services as well as facilitating linkages to ensure access to appropriate inputs as well as buyers.