Mozambique is the size of France and Spain out together. It boasts almost 3000 kilometres of beautiful coastline, stretching between South Africa and Tanzania. It is sparsely populated. In fact, only slightly more people live there than in the Netherlands. Democracy is in its infancy. Presidents respect the constitution and step down when they should, which is not common in Africa.
Despite being one of the poorest countries in the World, Mozambique is economically stable. Even in the prevailing financial crisis, it is achieving strong economic growth at the rate of almost 10% per annum! However, given the demographic slump, it will be many years before everyone is able to benefit. The average number of children born to each woman has fallen from twelve to six. At the same time, infant mortality is much lower than it used to be, and as a result population growth is still exceeding economic growth. Despite all the progress being made, thanks to which many people are indeed experiencing an improvement in their standard of living, the number of people living in poverty is still set to increase in the shorter term. Like every third-world country, this is a phase Mozambique has to go through. The forecast is that the number of children born to each woman will continue to fall. Only as this happens will the percentage of the population that is able to benefit start to grow. There is no short-term solution.
Most Mozambicans live in the countryside. But the slums in the cities are growing fast, as they are in other parts of the world. There is obviously a downside to too many people living in cramped and primitive conditions.
But there is an upside too: the girls no longer have to walk for hours to fetch water, which means they are able to go to school. And mobile phones and social media are making it more difficult to keep people ignorant and exploit them
The government’s greatest concern is the number of new jobs needed for the country’s rapidly growing youth population. Mass youth unemployment is a problem for every country. So in Mozambique, as in Europe, the driving concern is the creation of jobs, jobs and more jobs. By African standards, primary education is good and accessible to all. In the last 25 years, illiteracy has been slashed from 80% to less than 10%. However, higher education is difficult to access, because people have to pay for it themselves.
Healthcare is severely lacking. The situation is dire. Many, many people have no access to any sort of care at all. And the care that is available is at African level. There is an urgent need for many more doctors, which is where Doctors for Mozambique is seeking to help make a difference
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