They used hunted there; now, we protect. The Limpopo National Park was established in 2001 by the Government of Mozambique on the territory of an old hunting concession. This vast territory of over 11,000 km² is part of a larger transboundary park – the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) that includes the Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Gonarezhou Park in Zimbabwe.
The creation of the GLTP and the partial removal of the barrier at the border between Mozambique and South Africa have facilitated the free movement of wildlife between the two parks. This made it possible to repopulate the Limpopo National Park, whose fauna was decimated by the civil war that ravaged Mozambique between 1977 and 1992. The end of the war also encouraged people to settle back in the park, leading to conflict between its new inhabitants and wild animals.
In 2007, Agence Française de Développement (AFD) joined the German development Bank KFW, the World Bank and the South African Peace Parks Foundation to support the development plan of Limpopo National Park. AFD’s EUR 11 million grant is aimed primarily at restoring and preserving the park’s biodiversity while improving the daily lives of people living in the area. From this balance between economic development and nature conservation depends the sustainability of the Limpopo National Park.
Peter Leitner, a champion of conservation
There is no better advocate for the economic and touristic potential of the Limpopo National Park, Mozambique, than conservation specialist Peter Leitner. South African by birth, Peter has spent most of his life managing wildlife parks and is now Limpopo National Park’s Project Manager. “I grew up on a farm and have memories of wide open spaces and working in the field with wildlife”, Peter remembers of his childhood spent in Namibia. Although Peter now spends most of his time managing a complex project, he takes any available opportunity to be “in the field” to accompany the Limpopo National Park Project donors on a tour. His knowledge of the wildlife, vegetation and ecosystem of the park is impressive: he can tell how animals and plants interact with one another and the role each of them plays in the environment in which they live.
AFD’s support to the Limpopo National Park is centred on harmonizing conservation objectives with the need for economic development. At the core of this approach lies fostering sustainable subsistence farming that also allows farmers to generate income by selling surplus produce in the local markets. This is the case of the 43-members strong Hluvuka Chibotane Farming Association, which benefited from a water pump and irrigation system built with AFD’s grant. This is one of 18 water irrigation systems that AFD helped build between 2010 and 2013.
As project manager, Peter has monitored closely the construction of the pump closely and can vouch for the impact these type of infrastructure projects can have on the economic viability of farming, at the same time as they help protect the park’s environment and wildlife. “When you implement these types of irrigation schemes, population growth is not going to impact the surrounding environment as much because farmers will not continuously clear more land in order to make way for new crops”, Peter says. “With conservation agriculture, farmers can stay on the same plot indefinitely and regenerate the soil regularly, which benefits the environment tremendously”.
A delicate balancing act
AFD contributed to build part of the 56 km-long fence that separates the park’s Core Zone from the Support Zone. By restricting access into the Core Zone, the fence supports conservation and acts as the primary barrier against human–wildlife conflict.
In order to help reach the park’s tourism ambitions of increasing annual visitors from the current 10,000 to 59,000 by 2037, AFD helped improve 350 km of roads and built self-catering accommodation (campsites, 4×4 sites and chalets) and reception areas for tourists.
Finally, AFD played an important role in developing Mozambique’s institutional framework, in conjunction with other donors involved in biodiversity interventions – through the 2014 law on protected areas, the clarification of the mechanisms for distributing the revenues from tourism generated by the park, and the setting up the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC).
Looking ahead, a lot remains to be done
A recent evaluation of the Limpopo National Park project found that although AFD contributed to preserving the ecological integrity of the park, develop tourism and build the capacity of the park’s administration, more needs to be done in order to realise the park’s ambitious plan to be fully sustainable through tourism-generated income. More tourism concessions need to be granted, the capacity of community-based organisations to manage the revenue received from tourism need to be strengthened, as well as their awareness of wildlife conservation.
The Limpopo National Park is a great example of AFD’s approach to balancing conservation objectives with the need for economic development. Ultimately, this approach will help achieve the Limpopo National Park Development Plan’s objective to preserve ecological processes within a transfrontier conservation area at the same time as contributing to the wellbeing of the population.
The civil war that devastated Mozambique from 1977 to 1992 left the national education system in shambles. By the end of the war, less than half of the country’s children attended primary school, and only 3.1% of them attended secondary school.
In the 2000s, the provision of free textbooks and abolition of school fees, along with investments in classroom construction and teachers, resulted in a surge in net primary and secondary school enrolments, which are now 88% (2015) and 26% (2013) respectively. However, low learning achievement and insufficient number of qualified teachers are still a cause of great concern.
Against this background, the Aga Khan Academy, in the outskirts of the capital city Maputo, provides high-level primary and secondary education with the goal of training future highly qualified and socially responsible professionals to help Mozambique fulfil its social and economic development ambitions. More importantly, the Academy will actively enrol highly gifted and talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds who will be exempt from paying school fees.
A space to study and to dream big
The Aga Khan Academy in Maputo has been growing ever since it opened its doors in 2013. The second phase extension was completed in early 2018 and included bigger classrooms – one for each subject – a jungle gym for children of all ages, a library, an art room and a science lab.
“We had seen architectural plans for the new building, but when we saw it in real life, it was much better than anticipated”, says math teacher Manuel Henrique.
For teachers like Manuel, having bigger classrooms makes a world of a difference. “I now have my own classroom with my own equipment and the students can store their projects and tools there. I can walk around the class to help students with their work and I can give them the support they need”, says Manuel.
The school was carefully planned to cater for students both inside and outside the classroom. Large, green gardens, a playground and a sports field allow students to play and interact with one another during breaks and feel re-energised when they go back to the classroom.
Manuel has noticed that the new physical environment has inspired its students to start making plans for the future. “When we were in the old building, the students didn’t talk much about their possible careers after school. But since we’ve moved to the new building, I often hear the students talk about their future professions or the universities they would like to attend. They feel that because they are now in a big school, they can go to this or that university. I see a big change in their attitude: they feel free to dream big”, says Manuel.
Lia, a doctor in the making (and environment expert)
Year 7 student Lia Mamade is particularly eager to show her newly acquired knowledge of how the new school buildings were built to be energy efficient: “We did an assessment during our science class that revealed that this building saves a lot of energy. For example, the bathrooms have energy saving light bulbs that only switch on and off thanks to a sensor. We don’t have air conditioning in the classrooms, because they are ventilated naturally or through ceiling fans”, says Lia.
It is no surprise that Lia is so knowledgeable about the environment, as her dream is to become a doctor. “I’m very curious, I like to learn about everything, so studying to become a doctor means stepping out of my comfort zone and learn new things”.
One of the children’s favourite spaces is the library, aptly situated between the classrooms, at the heart of the school. Its high ceilings, colourful walls and playful furniture offer a stimulating and joyful environment that encourages children to read. “This library is huge! It has so many books and the children cannot wait to go there. They sit in big soft bean-bags, read books and comics, tell each other stories, and at the end of the day they can take the books home”, says Portuguese language teacher Adília Cabral.
Who would have thought that sitting in a library could be a fun activity for children?
Excellence in learning….
Set on 90,000 square metres of land, the Aga Khan Academy currently has 81 students– an equal number of boys and girls – across kindergarten to grade 12. It plans to accommodate 750 primary and secondary students by 2026, with 75 graduates per year.
Students as young as seven are bilingual in English and Portuguese and are able to follow classes and debate topics in both languages. Their curriculum follows the International Baccalaureate’s, which focuses on thinking critically and independently, and learning to enquire with care and logic. Students not only study traditional subjects such as languages, arts, maths and science, but also subjects such as ‘individuals and society’, which aims at developing their understanding of politics, society, culture, human experience and behaviour.
By focusing on both technical and life skills, the Aga Khan Academy aims at preparing skilled and socially responsible individuals who could one day be Mozambique’s future leaders. In order to improve access to education for academically gifted students from poorer households, the Academy provides 50% of its students with subsidized tuition fees, while about 10% of students receive full bursaries.
….and excellence in teaching
The level of skills and knowledge among teachers is equally impressive, as local teachers are recruited through a highly competitive national exam and undergo training both in Mozambique and at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya.
Adília had been teaching for 13 years before joining the Aga Khan Academy in 2018. After being recruited, she attended a year-long training in Mombasa, which completely changed her approach to teaching: “During the training, we learnt that a child’s mind is not an empty vessel on which to load our knowledge. If I instead recognize that each child already has some knowledge, I can adapt my classes accordingly, and make them much more interactive and dynamic”, says Adília.
A bright future
By the time of its completion in 2026, Aga Khan Academy campus will include additional classrooms, a sports complex, an amphitheatre and extensive green and recreational spaces.
A portion of the land on which the development sits will be used to build 90 rental apartments, whose revenue will be used to ensure the Academy’s long term sustainability and to fund future bursaries to students from poorer households. In addition, French language courses in partnership with the Mozambican Cultural Centre of Maputo will soon be offered to secondary students.
With highly qualified, inspiring teachers, state-of-the-art facilities, plenty of room to play and learn, it is no surprise that the Aga Khan Academy’s students dare to dream big. The Academy is without a doubt contributing to train individuals of solid principles and skills to drive Mozambique’s development forward.
A couple of hundred makeshift homes made of recovered wood and blue tarpaulin roofs house around 1,200 miners, who work 12 hours shifts in an artisanal cassiterite (tin) mine, just a few hundred metres away.
Like Wakilongo, most miners, from nearby villages in South Kivu or other provinces, are lured by the possibilities of earning a living from mining.
“I used to work in gold mines, but due to a decrease in production, I decided to come here as some of my colleagues told me I could make a living and support my family from working in cassiterite mines,” said Wakilongo Masumbuko.
Cassiterite is the parent mineral of tin. Mining of cassiterite is conducted mostly by artisanal (small scale) methods in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The country accounts for about 3 percent of the global supply of tin.
These so called ‘conflict minerals’ find their way into international supply chains by passing through a variety of intermediaries before being purchased by multinational electronics companies working in the automotive, jewellery and electronics sectors.
“For decades armed groups in Eastern DRC and some Congolese army factions, have been profiting from the artisanal mining of tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold (known as the 3Ts+Gold)”, says Jean-Philippe Chauzy, IOM Chief of Mission in DRC.
“Pretty much every single electronic device we own – mobile phones, tablets, laptops and gaming consoles, to mention a few –contains tantalum, which is extracted from coltan ore of which the DRC is the world’s largest producer,” adds Chauzy.
Profits from illegal mining fuel armed groups in the DRC. Through intimidation and control over the local populations, armed groups secure control of mines and trading routes that enable them to sell the minerals illicitly on the black market. The profits provide the funding that armed groups need to continue fighting. In addition, the illegal export of these minerals means that no taxes are paid to the DRC government.
Regaining civilian control of the mining sector
A new project by the UN Migration Agency (IOM) is helping certify mines as conflict-free and ensure profits are re-invested into the community.
In 2014, in a bid to increase transparency in the DRC mining sector, IOM, with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), launched the Responsible Minerals Trade (RMT) program, which aims to regulate trade in the strategic 3Ts+Gold minerals by establishing conflict-free supply chains, including the setting up of Centres de Négoces (Trading Counters).
“The project promotes the civilian control of the mining sector. It ensures that those mine sites are not in the hands of illegal armed groups or rogue elements within the state security apparatus, and do not employ children or vulnerable women. It also aims to protect the civilian population working on or living around those mining sites,” says Chauzy.
IOM has been supporting this objective by validating mining sites. To date, over 310 mining sites mostly in the east of the country have been validated and IOM hopes to have validated more than 500 mining sites by the end of 2018.
To improve the transparency of the supply chain, the minerals are traced all the way from extraction to wholesale. This is very much in line with the US Dodd-Frank legislation that requires listed US firms trading in the 3Ts+G to prove that those minerals are conflict-free.
Better working condition for miners
For the miners, working in a certified artisanal mine has clear advantages. The mines are a safer, healthier working environment and the miners are also guaranteed a fair income and basic rights as members of mining cooperatives. “We are grouped around a mining cooperative called COMIANGUE because a portion of the revenue generated from mining is reinvested into the community.”
The minerals extracted from Birembo’s artisanal mines are usually transported to Nzibira Point de Vente (Sales Counter), just a few kilometres away. Here, they are weighed, put inside pouches, tagged and sealed, under the supervision of an agent from DRC’s Service for the Assistance and Supervision of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (SAESSCAM).
“The tagging system ensures that the minerals’ journey is traceable all the way to the end, when they are exported and sold abroad”, says Dieudonné Cabwinwe, SAESSCAM Chief of Administration and Finance. “With IOM’s project, we are helping take back the mines from armed groups and instead generate revenue for our government”, he added.
Mr. Cabwinwe collects the taxes paid on each kilogram of raw minerals, while a representative of the mining division of the Provincial Ministry of Mines issues a travel permit that enables the minerals to travel within the country, up to the export point.
This system helps generate much needed tax revenue for the government of DRC. A levy of 2.2 per cent on the value of each exported container of minerals is added to a ‘basket fund’, which supports community projects such as health centres, schools and roads in the areas where the mines are found.
Hope for peace
Back in Birembo village, Wakilongo and one of his fellow miners walk down the hill back to the village. They grab two bottles of beer and sit on the edge of a hill to relax after a long day at work. “I work seven days a week. I start at 6am and finish at 6pm. When I rest…I either have a beer with my friends or I sleep,” says Wakilongo. “Life is better here because we mine small quantities of cassiterite but it’s enough for me to earn money to feed my family. I hope that what I earn will improve the life of my family. I’m confident because with the little I earn, my children can eat and will be able to study.”
The RMT project is helping promote civilian control of the minerals sector and ensure that vulnerable populations are protected from human rights abuses, therefore improving security in some conflict-affected areas in DRC.
However, there is a need to increase the number of certified mines and more consistent investigations and prosecution of individuals involved in corruption and illegal export in order to start seeing a considerable reduction in the export of conflict minerals. This will ultimately contribute to chocking off a key source of funding for DRC’s armed groups, shining a light of hope for peace in the eastern part of the country.
It’s a hot afternoon in Nyaragusu refugee camp, north-western Tanzania. A group of children – boys and girls – is kicking a ball around. They have just returned home from school and are spending some time playing before helping their families prepare dinner. Among them are 17 year old Ernest and his two siblings Bahati, 11 and Issa, 9 who have arrived in Nyaragusu a few months ago after feeling violent clashes in their home country Burundi. “I decided to run away because my parents were killed and life was not good in Burundi. I saw other people leaving, so I decided to go with them”, Ernest says.
“Home” in Nyaragusu is one of the thousands of tents donated by relief partners including UNICEF. This refugee camp hosts 133,000 people, half of which are Burundian refugees who, following demonstrations and acts of violence that engulfed the country in April last year, fled to neighboring countries – Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The remaining refugees in Nyaragusu are Congolese who have been living in the camp for over a decade.
Although violence has somewhat diminished since last year, Burundians continue to cross the border into Tanzania at an average of 100 per day. Tanzania currently hosts over 138,000 Burundian refugees, more than half of the 263,000 Burundians who have fled their country so far. According to UNICEF, more than 60 per cent of these refugees are children under the age of 18.
Ernest and his siblings took the long journey from the capital Bujumbura mostly on foot. “We left with nothing, not even our clothes”, Ernest remembers. “We would ask other people for food, but many nights we would go to sleep hungry. We would sleep anywhere, on the bare ground”. Although they travelled without a parent or relative, they were most likely to have been helped or assisted by the thousands of other people who were taking the same journey to safety. They crossed the border into Kagunga, north-western Tanzania, and then travelled further east to Manyovu, where UNHCR established a reception centre. From Manyovu they were then transferred by bus to Nyaragusu where they were registered as unaccompanied children – children who have been separated from both parents and other relatives and are not being cared for by an adult. As such, they were immediately eligible to live with a foster family that was later identified for them by UNICEF’s partner, the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
“Among the unaccompanied children arriving from Burundi some have seen and experienced horrible acts of violence, including the murder of their parents and loved ones, or may have been separated from their parents while fleeing to safety,” Stephanie Shanler, Child Protection Officer with UNICEF, said. “Their situation is dire and it is critical that interim, safe care be provided as soon as possible after their arrival into Tanzania, and that they receive psychosocial support”.
UNICEF and IRC have helped place more than 1,500 unaccompanied children in the care of foster families who also live in the camps. These are carefully selected families that have agreed to take in one or more children and look after them until they are reunited with their parents or relatives. Single parent Alice Mwajuma is one such family. She agreed to take in Ernest, Bahati and Issa because she only had one child of her own to look after and felt she could help other children living in the camp. “I was given these children by the IRC, because they see me as a parent, so I agreed to look after them,” Alice explains. “Even though they are not my children, I treat them as if they were.”
Foster families help bring some routine back into the lives of children like Ernest by taking care of their daily needs and providing an environment where they feel safe and protected. According to Kedir Ahmed, Child and Youth Protection and Development Coordinator with IRC, “foster families can help unaccompanied children overcome the trauma of being separated from their parents or relatives and help bring back a sense of normalcy in their lives – albeit a new sense of ‘normal’. They provide valuable support in the children’s education and help them integrate in the community.”
Dealing with the trauma of losing both parents is not easy, especially for children of Ernest’s age. “I feel fine but I just have too many worries, that’s why I don’t concentrate on my studies,” Ernest says. However, Alice is doing what she can to make him feel loved and cared for. “Ernest becomes worried when sees other children with their parents who remind him of his own parents,” Alice says. “But I tell him that what happened to his parents was an accident and I’m also here as his parent”.
Ernest is focused on completing his studies and dreams for a future outside the camp. “When I grow up, after finishing my studies I will look for a job, maybe I can be a journalist. I have no problem going anywhere, as long as I get good studies and peace,” Ernest concludes.
And peace is, of course, what Alice ultimately wants, for herself and her children. “I would like live in peace and do usual activities, just like other people outside the camp. I want them [Ernest and his siblings] to appreciate and thank me when they grow up, even though they lost their parents they can say they had a mother who raised them,” Alice concludes.
South Sudan is the world’s youngest nation. After gaining independence in 2011, it made some progress toward social and economic development and managed to slightly reduce maternal mortality rates. However, following violent clashes that broke out in countrywide the end of 2013, the country plunged into a prolonged crisis that resulted in 1.5 million internally displaced people and half a million refugees to neighbouring countries.
The crisis impacted the ability of the health system to deliver well functioning services and left thousands of women and children – and especially adolescent girls – without access to basic maternal, newborn and reproductive health services.
“People were very many, mothers were delivering on the road, there were no antenatal [services] at all”, Terza Achuei remembers of the time when violence was at its highest. She is a professional midwife working at the UNFPA-run clinic in Mingkaman, Lakes State, a town that saw an influx of over 100,000 internally displaced people from the neighbouring Jonglei State in north-eastern South Sudan.
Here, UNFPA established a clinic with support from the Jonglei State Ministry of Health and Bor Hospital. This resulted in an increase in antenatal consultations by 36% between April 2014 and December 2015, while deliveries were up by 25% in the same period. During this time, the clinic catered for over 70% of the reproductive health needs in Mingkaman.
In South Sudan, there are just over 300 midwives. Only 17% of births are attended by skilled personnel and maternal mortality remains one of the highest in the world. To help fill this gap UNFPA has set up a Diploma in Nursing and Midwifery at the Juba Teaching Hospital. Aber Evaline is one of 15 South Sudanese midwives recruited by UNFPA to work alongside international United Nations Volunteers midwives in 13 sites across the country.
“It is ever busy”, Aber says, her eyes beaming when she describes her typical day at the Juba Teaching Hospital. “Sometimes women come with complications like postpartum haemorrhage, so you have to run….and we do caesareans sometimes. We have cases of pre-eclampsia here and when they happen, even one mother alone can keep you busy the whole day”.
Although Tereza and Aber work in two markedly different environments, the challenges they face are very similar: lack of knowledge about contraception, teenage pregnancy, fistula, malaria, sexually transmitted diseases, and low uptake of ante-natal services.
“This clinic is making a difference. This job is our profession, we’re serving our people”, Tereza says proudly.
“The midwives are improving the situation, but our number is still very few”, Aber concludes.
Imagine being born with HIV and only finding out when you’re nine years old, by chance. This is the story of Evelyn*, an 18 year old Ghanaian girl who dreams of becoming a police officer. When she found out she was HIV positive, she didn’t know what it meant and kept it secret from everybody, for fear of stigma and discrimination.
Evelyn is smart, bubbly and has big dreams, but feels that she could do with a little more support from family and friends or from other adolescents who understand how she feels. But there aren’t many support group for adolescents aged 15-19 in Ghana, as this age group is often lumped together with ‘children’ or ‘adults’. But adolescents are neither children or adults. Having graduated from childhood and about to enter adulthood, they need dedicated support that caters for the needs and challenges that are unique to their age bracket. This is why Evelyn often feels isolated and lonely and confides mostly in her mother and sisters who are the only ones who can understand what it means to be born and grow up with HIV.
Evelyn is among thousands of adolescents living with HIV in Ghana. Globally, an estimated 2.1 million adolescents were living with HIV in 2012. Discrimination, poverty, inequalities and harsh laws prevent many of these children from seeking and receiving testing, health care and support.
These photos are part of a photo slideshow for UNICEF that we produced in 2013 for UNICEF. Below are a selection of photos and the final slideshow.
*Not her real name.
On an hot Sunday afternoon at Hamamni Secondary School in Stone Town, Zanzibar, 20 year old Rhama Seleman Jumanne is helping fellow youth organize chairs in a semi circle, facing the school’s imposing hand-carved entrance door. The school foyer is being prepared to host the seventh Speakers Corner, a weekly forum in which young Zanzibaris discuss and suggest ways to tackle issues that affect them.
“The Speakers Corner is about raising awareness among youth of issues that affect them and discuss ways to contribute to government, society and the communities around us”, Rhama says. She is a long standing member of Youth of United Nations Association (YUNA), who, in partnership with UNICEF, organizes the topics and venues for the weekly Speakers Corner. Every Sunday, dozens of young people – sometimes as many as 100 – gather in schools and village halls to discuss issues ranging from employment, education and migration, to climate change and youth activism. But today the youth will be faced with a very broad and challenging topic: what is needed to build an Africa prepared for its demographic boom and ready to take advantage of it?
According to a recent report by UNICEF, Africa’s population is expected to double from 1.2 billion in 2015 to 2.4 billion in 2050. Over the same period, Africa’s under-18 population will increase by two thirds, reaching almost 1 billion by mid-century; and close to half of the world population of children will be African by the end of the 21st century. This presents an unprecedented opportunity: if investments in healthcare, education, protection and participation are prioritized, the children of today and tomorrow have the potential to transform the continent and break the centuries-old cycles of poverty and inequity. But the opposite is also possible: if investment in the continent’s children is not prioritized, the sheer burden of population expansion can perpetuate and even increase current levels of poverty and marginalization.
“There are many things that should be done in order to make the most of the population growth”, Rhama says. “For instance, governments should provide better education to their people, because education is the most powerful weapon that we can use to change the world”. Quality education was raised by many participants as key to economic progress. “If more people get educated they can help increase production and bring African countries to the level of the developed world”, 17 year old Hussain Hamidi says.
As the discussion goes on, more and more participants take a chance to voice their opinions in front of a 90-strong audience. According to 19 year old Issa Khamis Bashir, “corruption is hampering development in Africa; only if we abandon bad political practices we can raise our levels of production and increase our economy”. Many participants agreed that with hard work they will reap great benefits: “we need to work hard and share our knowledge with the less educated”, 20 year old Maymuna Omar Abdallah says.
After discussing the benefits of population growth, participants also suggested ways to become more involved in changing the society in which they live and contribute to progress in Zanzibar and Tanzania. Many mentioned the importance of volunteerism and to start making small changes in their families and communities. As Rhama rightly puts it, “actions speak louder than word because they influence others to do the same. If we act within our communities or together with governments and civil society organizations, we can benefit many people”.
As the sun sets on Hamani School’s foyer, participants cheer each other and commit to continue making their voices heard in the coming Speaker Corners. “It feels good to be able to speak openly about these things”, Rhama says. “It would be great if the Speakers Corner could expand to other places, because even if old people continue to do things, they can be given some ideas by the youth”.