Alima Chereira is a typical Mozambican woman of 27 years; a practicing Muslim, wife, and mother of six. She and her family live in a 3- room, mud brick home with a thatched roof of dried grasses, the type ubiquitous to the area. Her husband, a merchant, sells small wares on market day and during season, supplies cashews to corporate buyers in the provincial capital. Like most women in her small village, Alima spends her days tending to the family farm, collecting wood for cooking, fetching water and managing a busy household.
By taking a closer look; however, one discovers that Alima is anything but typical. She is exceptional.
Born into a rural farming household and wed to a modest working man, Alima does not have the influence of a chief’s wife or the standing of a formally-educated individual. However, she has an aptitude and enthusiasm for learning, a steadfast spirit and radiating confidence. These qualities have carried her and the people of her community to a higher standard of living and quality of life.
Alima and her family call Mukuvula home, a small coastal farming and fishing village of 450 households and approximately 1,500 residents, half of whom are children. Located on the outer edge of the Potone Sacred Forest in Angoche District in the northern province of Nampula, Mukuvula is situated in a diverse landscape of coastal forest, interspersed with coconut palms and cashew trees, just 5 kilometers from the mangrove-rich Angoche estuary.
Despite the region’s potential, it is in one of the poorest in Mozambique. Due to steady and continuous population growth, competition over scarce resources continues to intensify while families find it hard to stay afloat. As Alima alludes,“Life for many of us is suffering.”
Like most in her community, Alima and her family rely equally on the productivity of their farmland and fisheries. Yet residents are overfishing and over-working the land just to make ends meet. Already poor farming conditions are further exacerbated by increasingly erratic rainfalls and longer dry periods brought on by climate change.
“Before,” comments Alima, “we could depend on seasonal rains. We knew when they would come and how much would fall. But now, we can no longer count on [it]. When it rains, it comes in torrential downpours-if it even rains at all.”
As a result, food insecurity plagues one-third of households and malnutrition is one of the highest in the world. Nearly half of children are stunted and a quarter underweight. Statistics are not much better for community water and sanitation. 29% of Mozambique’s rural population have access to an improved water source (such as protected wells) while only 5% have access to improved sanitation facilities (covered latrines). Water scarcity and high rates of water-borne illnesses threaten community health and well-being.
In fact, the biggest concern for Mukuvula residents when asked in November of last year was not related to poor farming conditions or dwindling catches, but water.
“This is what we have to drink,” they had explained, holding up bottles of brown water. “For clean water, we have to walk really far and wait in lines, sometimes for hours.” Others explained how they chose to make the journey to the nearest well at night when there is less of a wait, despite the dangers. “We would leave around 11 pm and return at 4 am,” recounted community member Amisse Mandasse, “When it comes to water, there is no day or night.”
For Alima and her family, already dire circumstances had reached a critical point. Yet she had not accepted this as her fate. Rather, she confronted these immense challenges head-on and with support from the CARE-WWF Alliance, has seen conditions of her community and its residents transform. Read more…
Primeiras e Segundas has a great story to tell, and now we have help telling it in a big way. The program was selected to be showcased in the feature story of WWF’s new quarterly publication, World Wildlife magazine, launched this week. The magazine provides an inspiring, in-depth look at the connections between animals, people and our planet. Click on the image below to read the feature and learn more about the publication.
Also, check out a post, Farming, Fishing and Small Miracles in Mozambique, by biologist Brendan Fisher who recently visited Primeiras e Segundas which is also featured on WWF’s blog Science Driven.
‘Animating’ Benefits Continued: Atija Momade elected President of Association of Community VSL Trainers
In late May, the P&S Program highlighted the benefits brought to community Village Savings and Loans (VSL) group trainer, ‘Animator’ Atija Momade and the community members she reaches through microfinancing activities in the feature story ‘Animating Benefits:’ How bringing financial security to others reaps rewards for community Village Savings and Loans trainers.
Five months later, CARE-sponsored P&S implementing partner OPHAVELA (Association for Socio-Economic Development) is preparing to transition out of Angoche district. Since 2007, OPHAVELA has trained and accompanied 23 ‘Animators’ and witnessed the formation and bolstering of nearly 100 VSL groups. The time has come to pass along the torch as programmatic support and supervisory roles will be handed over to the community trainers (Animators). In preparation, the 23 trainers have come together and formed an association, Organizar a Vida (Organize Life), which secured legalization at the district level last month.
The Program recognized Atija’s leadership and talents when she was selected as the subject of the beneficiary story and so have her fellow Animators. She was elected President of the new association and helped to craft its vision statement as well as shape its primary objective:
Contribute to improving the living conditions of the population of the district by providing members and non members microfinance services that tend to raise their family income, based on the implementation of savings and credit and other income generation activities while promoting gender equity and healthy lifestyle choices including HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation.
Trainers will continue to mobilize community members to form savings and credit clubs as well as support already-formed groups until their independence. Instead of looking to OPHAVELA for financial and material support, they will look to themselves- taking on the responsibilities of training and supplying start-up manuals, log notebooks, and other materials to groups following established principles of their own teachings.
“We teach groups that through their own means, they can advance economically and achieve goals; through unity and collective contribution.We will follow these principles as we look to advance our goals of providing continual support and services to the community.” Founding member Luis Salimo
As part of OPHAVELA’s transition out, the association is receiving trainings in organizational development and is building up its recently-elected leadership base. In the coming months, Atija and other elected officers will travel to the neighboring district of Meconta to take part in a ‘troca de experiências,’ a sharing workshop with members of the district Association of Animators formed there by OPHAVELA under the same circumstances a year ago.
“We will have the opportunity to learn best practices from the experiences of this association as we move forward with the development of ours,” explained Atija.
As you may recall, it was Atija’s dream to continue to study and become a teacher. Although she has not made advancements on that dream, she sees her new position as Association president as a wonderful opportunity for growth and further professional development.
“I am looking forward to learning new skills and am anxious to see the prospects of this association which has so much potential to continue to see through the important work OPHAVELA and we as Animators have done and will continue to do for the communities of Angoche.”
This week, thirteen P&S staff members from Angoche and Moma districts representing administrative, technical and managerial departments were engaged in the first phase of a Gender Action Learning process for supporting the program in the promotion of gender equality.
Born out of introspective analysis of CARE Mozambique’s approach and integration of gender in projects, policies and procedures and following similar processes for CARE internationally, CARE Mozambique has initiated a national process based in Gender at Work methodology aimed at achieving the following objectives:
-Create participant consciousness of participants gender relations and roles at individual, organizational, and community levels
-Build organizational capacity and knowledge in a gender approach
-Create opportunities for participants to implement change interventions for gender equality in their organizations
-Systematize and register the process and stories of change as practiced
For P&S’ initial phase, facilitators Solange Rocha and Sylvie Desautels led participants through a day of inclusive participatory activities following a transformative Popular Education approach, utilizing engaging and expressive forms such as theater and drawing. “These methods allow us to connect with all types of people and to get to the bottom of issues,” explained Desautels.
“Many projects include gender components in the form of numbers of or % of female participation, for example, but we are looking at achieving a deeper, more profound analysis. Our goal is to guide the institution to take into account power and decision-making dynamics; issues of access and representation, not just presence.”
-Solange Rocha, Facilitator
In short, P&S staff have begun to learn what it is to put on and see through, in the words of Rocha, ‘gender glasses’ at the personal/familial, organizational, and community levels, following a Reflect-Act-Change model.
It is about asking questions explained the facilitators. “We must start by asking Why?, reflect on these responses, and then ask, “What does this mean? Is this something we want to change? If so, how can we change it?”
Looking ahead over the next year and a half, a team ‘change agents’ made up of representatives from each of CARE’s programs, including P&S of the CARE-WWF Alliance, will tackle the aforementioned objectives. Through dialogues, workshops, and other platforms, they will facilitate staff and beneficiary communities through a didactic process of listening and observing, reflecting and learning, towards improved cultural consciousness with respect to gender. This will worked into a global Theory of Change and action plan, incorporating strategies and stories of change.
NRM Officer Marcos Assane will serve as co-facilitator for P&S. With his support and leadership, P&S will be putting on its ‘gender glasses’ and looking into a mirror. As Assane commented:
“For change to happen in how we run our projects and work with communities with respect to gender, we must start with us.”
The challenge then will be how we respond to the reflection we find looking back.
Ministry of Tourism hosts Open Standards Conservation Planning Workshop for the Primeiras & Segundas Environmental Protected Area (PSEPA)
The National Administration of Conservation Areas of Mozambique´s Ministry of Tourism brought together more than 35 individuals representing over 20 stakeholder institutions last week for a four-day Open Standards Conservation Planning workshop in Angoche for the Primeiras & Segundas Environmental Protected Area (PSEPA). Following the declaration of the Primeiras & Segundas Archipelago as an Environmental Protected Area in November last year, the workshop served as a critical next step in the participatory development process of the area’s Management Plan.
Facilitated by Anita Diederichsen and Gustavo Gatti, representatives of The Nature Conservancy, participants discussed and analyzed the area and its resources from a variety of perspectives with the goal of building a common understanding of and identifying potential strategies for PSEPA management.
Participants represented a wide stakeholder base, including representatives of four government ministries (Tourism, Environment, Agriculture, Fisheries) at district, provincial and national levels, leadership of three district fishing associations, and local fisherman representing private sector fish-processing companies.
The workshop was a special moment for me as I have been accompanying the declaration process since 2005. We appropriated the reserve area as our own, and through the process, we were able to put forth what we would like to see prioritized. The process was not top-down, but participatory at all levels: local community, provincial, national and international-
Miguel Massunda, Director of SDAE (District Services for Economic Activities), District Government, Angoche