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CARE and WWF Mozambique Directors Visit P & S

May 12, 2010

Florencio Marerua, WWF Mozambique Country Director, and Barbara Jackson, CARE Mozambique Country Director, jointly conducted a visit to the Primeiras and Segundas Project May 3rd through May 5th.  Following are their reflections from the trip plus a few of Florencio’s photos.

Photo by Florencio Marerua

The Moma Fishing Association with Barbara Jackson and local CARE and WWF staff, in front of the P&S Moma office.

As we had agreed during our Steering Committee meeting in early March, we thought it was very important to demonstrate our vision of solidarity and unity as an Alliance to government partners and community members, as well as taking the opportunity to further our understanding of the challenges and opportunities that continue to evolve in this very vulnerable area of Mozambique.

We initiated our visit with a formal meeting with the Governor of Nampula Province, Felismino Tocoli.  His Excellency Dr. Tocoli greeted us with great warmth and appreciation for our collaboration and commitment to the province.  Our animated discussion centered around the new five year government plan with the priorities of promoting economic growth and development while ensuring protection of the valued natural resource base that is so evident in Nampula.  The Governor highlighted many of the advances that have been made in the past several years, including greater access to markets, improvements in health services and reduction of water-borne diseases, electrification in Moma District, and the construction of health facilities and the Palace of Justice, yet he acknowledged the continuing challenges of ensuring that economic growth reaches the poorest of the population, precisely those with whom we are working.

Improvements in access notwithstanding, it was a very long, bumpy drive to Moma District with road conditions clearly having suffered from the recent rainy season, yet the passing scenery was beautiful and it was encouraging to see the greenery of crops ripening and groups of people waiting alongside the road to transport grain to the Nampula markets for sale.  The ever-present line of women and girls carrying massive containers of water on their heads walking home late in the afternoon is unfortunately an ever constant image of northern Mozambique, where water coverage, as cited by the Governor, does not yet reach even 40% of the total population.

We spent the entire next day in the field, starting with a meeting with a fishing association and a forum of associations who expressed their concerns about having greater access to funding opportunities through the district level government decentralization funds.  This is definitely an area that we agreed we must strengthen in the future, in terms of supporting local associations’ capacities to effectively negotiate and gain what has been decreed by the central government as their rights to access funds for private initiatives, including the establishment of small businesses (e.g. providing transport services to Nampula, selling cassava stalks and others).

photo by Florencio Marerua

Visiting an eroded area recently replanted with mangroves

Our field visit to the mangrove nursery, accompanied by members of the forum, was one in which we could have stayed much longer to discuss the great strides the associations have made to replant mangrove trees that have been cut by community members for construction.  We are concerned that these groups have not yet come up with alternative solutions to using mangrove as construction and firewood materials, and we need to find ways to support them in identifying solutions for themselves.

Visiting an agricultural site that was managed by an association founded 10 years ago – but who say that they only really started working with the P & S support – was highly invigorating as we got to see the range of techniques being employed to promote conservation of the soils, protect the harvest, and improve capacity of production.  The real leader of this community was Fátima, aged 54, who told us that the key is to have the energy and the will, but also to have “a little help” from agencies like us and through projects such as P & S to get them started, to get them to believe in themselves, and to introduce new ways of doing things.  With strong leaders such as Fátima – and we know that there are many more like her – we are certain that P & S can have even greater impact in the future.

photo by Florencio Marerua

The association president – and Fátima’s son – explains how the peanut drying rack works. This simple technique, introduced by the P&S Project, prevents toxic compounds from developing in the peanuts as they dry.

All in all, it was a great visit; a great opportunity to spend time with our field colleagues Riccardo, Tiago, and Hage, amongst others from both WWF and CARE, whom we find that we have to pull away from community dialogue so as to keep to our agenda and time.  Our staff face challenging work environments – in Moma, for example, there has been no cell phone or internet coverage for the past 10 days, it is difficult to find vegetables and fresh fruit, and housing conditions are less than optimal – yet people are hard working and committed.  Our colleagues are well known by the District Administration and we were thanked for their contributions to the efforts being undertaken by the Government of Moma to rebuild after Cyclone Jokwe and to help reduce vulnerabilities for the future.

Next trip?  Hopefully within the next three months as another joint visit – well worth the time away from our desks in Maputo!  And most enjoyable.

-Florencio and Barbara

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