Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mozambique-Delivering as One

At the beginning of the millennium, Mozambique seemed on its way to sustainable and prosperous economic growth. Having recently overcome a devastating civil war that killed nearly 1 million people and displaced countless more, Mozambique looked forward to a projected 10 percent growth rate and to taking on a position of leadership in Africa.

Just three months later however, the country suffered an enormous setback when severe widespread flooding occurred. And just one month later, natural disaster struck again as a destructive cyclone tore through the center of the country. These tragedies have severely impeded Mozambique’s growth, which has since decreased to less than 4 percent. According to official UN figures, the floods killed over 700 people, destroyed the homes of 250,000, ruined vast areas of cultivated land, and killed large numbers of cattle. Flooding also destroyed or damaged 90 percent of Mozambique’s irrigation infrastructure, along with hundreds of schools, hospitals, and businesses.

In the past ten years, Mozambique has made great strides in recovering from its misfortune in 2000. In projects spearheaded by the United Nations Delivering as One Project, Mozambique has received over $250 million in aid. Today, the nation boasts a growth rate of over 7 percent. However, there is still work to be done. The country relies heavily on foreign aid and suffers from a 21 percent unemployment rate, as well as a serious human trafficking problem. Large numbers of young women and children are trafficked to South Africa for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Most of the perpetrators have avoided prosecution and capture, exacerbating the problem and hampering efforts to stop these atrocious crimes.

Furthermore, corruption within the government and a lack of solid financial infrastructure continue to hinder the development of Mozambique. UNDP is dedicated to helping Mozambique fulfill the Millennium Development Goals and continue its journey to becoming a self-sufficient state.

From August 5-15 UNDP-USA's Executive Director Elizabeth Latham, will be leading a team through Mozambique to experience UNDP's work first hand. Her team will be blogging their experiences live here and through UNDP-USA's Twitter.