The extractive industries are the most important developmental opportunity and challenge in Mozambique today. There is great potential for the coal, gas and other mineral resources to act as a driver for development. There are also large risks involved. Tete province, the current centre of mining exploration and production, is already one of the poorest provinces in the country with 60% of children experiencing deprivation-based poverty: only 69% of children are in primary school and 48% of children are stunted. The mining sector is already causing substantial price inflation in the province, particularly for food, which will impact poverty rates and the nutritional status of children. Anecdotal evidence from families in resettlement areas indicate even less access to basic health services and education, while long term environmental effects may lead to even more precarious livelihoods for the populations in and around the mines in the years to come.
UNICEF Mozambique is developing a strategy to protect children and their families from any harmful impacts of the extractive industries, including those that may arise from relocation and resettlement of communities, the environmental impacts of exploration and extraction of resources and ensure their access to justice, if any violations occur. At the same time our long term partnerships, with the Ministries of Finance and Planning as well as with the IFIs and donor partners here, have us well positioned to engage on the potential allocations of national wealth created by the extraction of non-renewable natural resources through high quality Government social development programmes. Our strategic entry point in advocacy to date has been linked to ensuring all Mozambican children and their families benefit equitably from their “national inheritance.”
But what about you? Where do you stand on the resource curse versus blessing debate? What impacts have you seen in your country? in your thematic area? Let’s join forces to bring sustainable development and equitable access to the resource wealth to future generations!