UNICEF history in Mozambique
Long lasting commitment
UNICEF has supported Mozambique for almost four decades. During this time, the country has been faced with numerous significant challenges including war, post conflict recovery and peace-building, poverty, recurrent natural disasters and the surge of HIV and AIDS.
In the late 1960s, UNICEF began cooperating with pro-independence movements in the Portuguese-administered African Territories, including Mozambique, providing assistance for basic services such as health, nutrition, rural water supply, education and emergency relief.
A UN fact-finding mission visited Mozambique in February 1975. This led to the first ongoing commitment of US$ 1.2 million by UNICEF, allocated for a mass vaccination campaign, primary health interventions, rural water supply and the rehabilitation of teacher training centers.
After Mozambique’s independence from Portugal on 25 June 1975, UNICEF opened its first office in Maputo, staffed with a Representative and an Assistant Project Officer.
By 1985, UNICEF’s expenditure in Mozambique had increased fourfold. At the same time, a civil war between the Government and RENAMO rebel groups gripped most of the countryside.
Women and children particularly bore the brunt of the civil strife. The war lasted for 16 years. Up to 1990, UNICEF spent US$ 35 million on emergency activities to support women and children displaced by a war which cost the lives of an estimated one million people.
Peace and reconstruction
After the signing of the Peace Accords in 1992, UNICEF supported reconciliation and recovery efforts including the demobilization of child soldiers and their reintegration into family life and society.
UNICEF supported the Government and Non-Governmental Organizations such as Save the Children to reunify thousands of unaccompanied and separated children with their families. UNICEF also supported trauma counseling and psychosocial support for thousands of children and their families.
Another focus of the UNICEF program during this period was the rehabilitation of health posts, schools and other social services, particularly in remote areas which could not have been reached during the war.
In 2000, Mozambique suffered the worst flood in its recent history. Almost 1 million people living in riverine areas were directly affected by the emergency which attained significant international attention and support.
UNICEF alone received US$ 21.5 million to support the victims of flooding. This enabled the Organization to work with partners to expand existing programs, such as community capacity development and school health, to fight malaria and water borne diseases and to conduct a massive immunization campaign.
Mozambique once again experienced flooding a year later, in 2001, affecting an even larger geographical area, but only about half of the number of people due to the low population density in the regions hardest hit and relocation of some populations from the previous year.
Challenges and progress
Since the end of the 1990s, the response to the escalating AIDS crisis has become a major focus for UNICEF due to the increasing impact of the pandemic, especially on children. The Country Program 1999-2001 addressed the pandemic for the first time.
In the 2002 -2006 Country Program, the response to AIDS was one of the key priorities, in addition to child survival, girls’ education and protection. The overall goal of the cooperation was to support and strengthen Mozambique’s commitment and capacity to promote, protect and fulfill the rights of children.
The current Country Program 2007-2009 continues to place focus on child survival and development, HIV and AIDS, basic education with a focus on gender parity and quality and child protection.
The program aims to reduce disparities in the well being of children by ensuring that vulnerable children in the most disadvantaged families and communities are supported to progressively realize their rights to survival, development, protection and participation.
It supports national efforts to improve service delivery in child health and nutrition, basic education, water, sanitation and hygiene, child protection and social policy, advocacy and communication for behavior change and social action.
Over the past couple of years, UNICEF, in close collaboration with national and international partners has also responded to a number of natural disasters, including floods and cyclones. In 2007, 285,000 people were affected by the floods, with over 107,000 people sheltered in temporary accommodation centers.
In 2008, over 110,000 people were newly displaced when the centre of the country was hit by major flooding, particularly along the vast Zambezi River Valley.