Despite government and development agencies’ best efforts to reduce poverty, the country is still one of the poorest in the world. In 2016 Mozambique was 181 (out of 188 nations) on the Human Development Index scale – which measures key indicators in a nation’s development.
The unemployment rate is 27 per cent – the majority of those out of work are young people. Frequent flooding and food shortages, coupled with armed conflict between government and opposition forces, threaten to reverse the development gains made in the past 22 years.
More recently, the nation has experienced a period of relative calm and there is hope for sustained peace. Mozambique has maintained a high average GDP of about 6.5 per cent annual growth. This is largely a result of more discoveries of – and investments in – oil, coal and gas, along with increased and improved public taxation mechanisms. This growth is externally driven however, and largely benefits corporate investors, rather than helping to lift the poor from poverty.
Discoveries of natural resources have the potential to further marginalise poor people through land dispossession and government-signed concessions.
Poverty indicators have improved in most urban areas, but rural areas remain marginalised, with poor access to services and sufficient food. The worst affected are flood and drought-prone areas along the Sabe, Limpopo, Pungue, Zambeze and Licungo rivers.
Religious belief systems, poor literacy levels, and cultural practices deny women access to education and promote early and premature marriages. Along with a male-dominated leadership system, these are all contributing factors to Mozambique’s ongoing poverty.