Mozambique ranked amongst the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world until very recently, but is now facing a severe financial crisis and still remains one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries. The past decade’s annual average economic growth rate of 7.5 per cent has failed to deliver equitable progress.
Recent discoveries of natural resources, particularly liquid gas, have, on the one hand, raised hopes for a change of course, and on the other raised concerns of the so-called ‘resource curse’, which could fail to create jobs, have a negative impact on the exchange rate and cost of living, and mostly bolster a small elite.
According to preliminary data from the latest House-hold Budget Survey (IOF, 2015), most of the growth in household consumption occurred in the wealthiest quintile, with the wealthiest fifth of Mozambicans spending 14 times as much as the poorest fifth; this is double the ratio of 7 to 1 just six years ago.
Overall consumption poverty is at 46 per cent. Disparities in access to and usage of services – and more importantly of outcomes – continue between rural and urban areas, the south and north of the country, boys and girls, and between the different wealth quintiles. In some provinces, poverty surpasses 50 per cent of households (Gaza – 51 per cent, Zambézia and Nampula – 57 per cent, and Niassa – 61 per cent), while in Maputo City the rate dropped to 11 per cent, showing that past growth has been captured only by the capital city. Most recent data show that over 50 per cent of households are food insecure, 24 per cent chronically, leaving them vulnerable to shocks – such as recurrent flooding throughout the country and drought in the south and centre – and undermining their productivity. Undernutrition remains a key determinant for child under-development, with 43.3 per cent of children stunted. After many years focusing on access to services, it is clear that quality and equity are fundamental missing links in service delivery.