Boost for Mozambique poverty war

Irish President Mary McAleese said in Maputo this week that her country would continue to support Mozambican government’s Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty (PARPA).

“Ireland has committed itself to a long term involvement in Mozambique. We have pledged to remain flexible, responding to any challenges that may arise.

“Our ambition for Mozambique is to help speed up the day of prosperity and see it generalised, so that as the country makes remarkable progresses in poverty relief it becomes a full trade partner with Ireland”, McAleese said.

She stressed that “all donor countries, financial institutions and multilateral agencies have committed themselves to help developing countries attain the Millennium Development Goals”.

Those goals, agreed at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, were “the greatest consensus in history around a development agenda”. They include reducing by half the number of people living on less than a dollar (US) a day, guaranteeing full primary education for every child on the planet, cutting the under-five mortality rate by two thirds and the maternal mortality rate by three quarters, and reversing the spread of Aids – all to be achieved by the year 2015.

The Irish government, pledged McAleese, would reach the UN target for overseas development aid, of 0,7 percent of GDP, by 2012.

The poverty in the developing world, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, was “a moral outrage” – but it was not enough simply to build the health and education services in countries such as Mozambique.

“The sustainability of any progress in these areas is only possible if at the same time we develop the power of people to participate and to take decisions, if we create real opportunities, by providing decent jobs and thus the capacity of people to provide for their own future and that of their children,” she said.

McAleese delved into the history of her own country – for Ireland, like Mozambique, “knows what it means to be colonised.

“We know what it is to struggle for the right to run our own affairs. We know what it is to face endemic poverty, and the insidious heritage of internal conflict”.

But Ireland has won its battle against poverty. A few decades ago, it was regarded as one of the poorest and most backward countries in Europe – yet now, McAleese stressed, in the UN Human Development Index, Ireland ranks as the eighth most developed country, and has the second highest per capita income.

Mozambican President Armando Emilio Guebuza said that the talks he held with his Irish counterpart “have allowed us to learn from the valuable Irish experience in bringing about better living standards for its people”.

“The Irish example inspires us. It confirms that we too can overcome poverty in Mozambique,” he said.

Ireland was a partner in the Mozambican battle to eradicate poverty, he continued, and on his recent visits to Inhambane and Niassa provinces, he had witnessed how Irish aid in these parts of the country “is leading to progress in institutional and rural development, particularly in education, agriculture, public works, health, the fight against Aids, and demining”.

On the first day of her visit, McAleese and her delegation also met with former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, with former South African President Nelson Mandela, and with Mozambique’s cooperation partners. She urged the various donors and funding agencies to grant increased support to Mozambique.

“The Mozambican people are committed to developing their country and need the sympathy of the international community at large, and of the Irish business community in particular”, she said.

The Irish support to Mozambique amounts to 43 million Euros (about US$51,6 million), plus an estimated six million Euros in direct support to the state budget this year.

Meanwhile, the Mozambican branch of the Roll Back Malaria campaign has announced a grant of US$60 million from the Presidential Malaria Initiative, set up by US President George Bush, to help fight this disease during the next three years.

The chairperson of the group of Roll Back Malaria facilitators in Mozambique, Anglican bishop Dinis Sengulane, said that the announcement was made in Washington by American first lady Laura Bush.

“Mozambique is to receive US$60 million for the next three years with annual disbursements of 20 million”, said Sengulane.

He said the money would be used to implement a programme that had been designed for the period 2003-05, but that was not carried out for the lack of funds.

June 2006
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