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Save the Children in Mozambique
In Mozambique families rely on rain-fed crops to survive, however they are extremely vulnerable to floods, drought and crop diseases. Other challenges in Mozambique include HIV/AIDs epidemics, and poor quality school systems. Save the Children aims to address these challenges by strengthening food security and fighting child malnutrition, improving children’s access to early childhood development programs and basic education, and expanding HIV/AIDS programs.
Mozambique's children face many challenges. Rates of chronic malnutrition are as high as 53% in areas of our food security program. The lack of education also limits children's opportunities - the country has no national early childhood development curriculum or strategy; large numbers of children are not in school due to a lack of facilities and difficult access. The quality of education has also suffered due to limited teacher training.
Girls face even greater obstacles – the number of girls attending elementary school drops with each higher grade. Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to death and disability related to early pregnancy and childbirth. While the country has made some progress in combating some diseases, HIV/AIDS is on the rise. The prevalence rate is 16% among adults, a rate that will severely affect the lives of approximately 700,000 orphans in the coming years. Additionally, Mozambique is affected by natural disasters that contribute further to the country's widespread poverty and poor infrastructure.
Save the Children's food security programs in Mozambique operate on many levels, seeking to reduce physical stunting among children, increase crop yields and incomes and close the hunger gap. Our agricultural strategies promote initiatives including the distribution of disease-tolerant cassava plants, crop diversification and seed conservation. We provide business training to strengthen the capacity of community-based farmer associations. Our nutrition strategies include growth monitoring for children under 3, improved nutrition for pregnant and lactating women, improving the processing and storage of food and educating families about proper hygiene and sanitation. Our network of volunteer community nutritionists teach mothers to identify warning signs in their children so that they can quickly seek medical attention. Some 50,000 households have benefited from these programs. In addition, to offset the lack of food between harvests, we implement school feeding programs and provide supplemental feeding to almost 61,000 orphaned and vulnerable children, which has significantly reduced the number of children who drop out of school
Save the Children's health initiatives increase the capacity of government health workers to deliver services to communities; raise awareness of preventative health; improve the skills of health workers and community volunteers; and promote child and maternal care. We also strive to reduce the incidence of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS and help community members provide home-based care to those suffering from an AIDS-related illness. Save the Children is also working with the Ministry of Health and others to fill gaps in existing child programs to ensure essential newborn and post-natal care.
Our education programs aim to increase the number of Mozambican children who receive a quality primary school education. We focus on increasing access to school by constructing classrooms and latrines, and through community mobilization. We also improve the quality of education by training and supporting teachers; promoting basic literacy and numeracy; providing books and other learning materials; and improving children's health and nutrition so that they can concentrate more effectively on learning. Girls are a special focus. There is evidence that educated girls are more likely to delay marriage and childbirth, have healthier children and send them to school. To promote girls' education, we address the high repetition and drop-out rates; improve sanitation facilities for girls; and promote parent participation and management in school councils.
Early investments in children can have long-term benefits to families and society. Promoting ECD will be a key focus of our work over the next five years. Through our ECD program, we work with communities to construct and manage community-based preschools, which are staffed by volunteer teachers. Save the Children and partners have developed a volunteer teacher's training curriculum that emphasizes using low-cost local materials to make books, games and toys to help young children "learn by doing." The curriculum promotes the four pillars of young children's physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. Save the Children is also seeking to influence national ECD policy and programs, based on our community experiences. Read our groundbreaking report on Early Childhood Development in Mozambique
Our HIV/AIDS programs aim to improve the well-being of children and families made vulnerable by the disease. We design our activities to increase the capacity of communities and local structures to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and mitigate its impact on orphans, other vulnerable children and affected families; increase access to essential programs and services; and ensure that children are cared for and protected. Save the Children also is developing integrated HIV/AIDS programs to address the range of needs faced by children, including education, clean water and sanitation, health, food security and HIV prevention. Last year our programs reached over 32,000 children.
In 2008, Save the Children responded to flooding in Zambezia Province. We distributed food to some 14,000 children and adults and helped create 24 safe spaces for children in resettlement camps. We also responded to the coastal destruction caused by Cyclone Jokwe. Save the Children distributed thousands of household and school kits and helped set up temporary classroom tents to allow children to begin the new school year. We not only respond when disasters strike, but also provide community awareness training as well as preparedness training for government institutions, local NGOs and community leaders.
Save the Children will continue to incorporate home-based care and youth mobilization into our programs for orphans and vulnerable children, and strengthen psychosocial support to children through "art as therapy" initiatives. We will continue to improve the quality of basic education by focusing on early learning in our ECD programs and on improving basic literacy skills through greater community involvement. We will strengthen our collaborations with government and other maternal and neonatal, child health and nutrition and HIV prevention partners to promote, advocate and develop "best practices" in maternal, newborn and child programs. Our HIV prevention activities will promote an innovative "youth-to-youth" approach in which young people act as mentors for their peers. And, we will continue to target the immediate and long-term causes of hunger and malnutrition by promoting improved agricultural and nutrition practices among rural households
Mahuntsane Community Unites to Give Children a Strong Start in Life
Nearly 100 mothers, fathers and grandmothers sit under a majestic oak tree waiting to register their children in the escolinha comunitaria, or community-based preschool. Children play while waiting to be registered at the community-based preschool.
Zalina waits patiently to register her four-year-old granddaughter, Angelina. Angelina lives with her mother and grandmother since her father's death. The family speaks Shangana, the local language. However, beginning with first grade, school is taught in Portuguese and many children struggle - and are more likely to drop out - because of the language barrier. "It is very important for Angelina to attend the escolinha," Zalina notes, "so that she can learn to speak and read in Portuguese and get along well with the other children. This opportunity will ensure that it will be easier for her to study when she goes to school."
The school, which will be built close by so that the small children will not have to walk far from their homes, is truly a community undertaking. While the community of Mahuntsane may lack material wealth, its people make up for it in their energy and enthusiasm for giving their children an early start on the path to school success.
Helping Orphans and Vulnerable Children Reach for a Brighter Future
Last year, five-year-old Joice, the third child in a family of four, had no place to learn and play. That was before community members teamed up with Save the Children to build a Community-Based Care Center for orphans and vulnerable children.
Joice is one of an estimated 4.5 million orphans and vulnerable children in Mozambique. These girls and boys are considered to be some of the most severely impacted by the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic. Without their parents, they are increasingly vulnerable to malnutrition, illness, abuse, neglect and HIV infection. In addition, they face great barriers to education, livelihood activities and health care, particularly psychosocial support.
Today, thanks to Save the Children's partnership with her community, Joice has a safe place to spend her days learning, eating healthy meals, and playing with friends.
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Mozambique Facts and Statistics
Unless otherwise noted, facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children's 2012 State of the World's Mothers report. You can access detailed data here.
Other sources as follows: Infant Mortality Rate: CIA World Factbook 2012; Life Expectancy at Birth: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; National Poverty Rate: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; Population: CIA World Factbook 2012; Human Development Index Rank: United Nations Development Program
Last Updated June 2014