Mozambique suffers from one of the world’s lowest levels of per-capita water consumption. Mozambican girls and women spend much of their day fetching water instead of attending school or engaging in income-generating activities. But recently I was able to witness two important milestones in MCC’s effort to provide access to some of the country’s poorest people.
During a ceremony filled with optimism for the future of northern Mozambique, Prime Minister Aires Bonifacio Baptista Ali visited Nacala on Feb. 18 to lay the first brick for the area’s new water supply system. Surrounded by dignitaries, MCA-Mozambique employees, and beneficiaries, Prime Minister Ali placed the concrete block into a hole in the red earth. Other dignitaries were on hand to witness this important event, including the governor of Nampula province, the vice minister of public works and habitation and local chiefs. There were speeches, handshakes, dancing, countless smiles, blessings by Christian and Muslim leaders, and a makeya (a traditional ceremony to mark important occasions).
More than 120,000 people in Nacala and the surrounding region will soon have access to improved sources of water because of the project, which includes a treatment plant, transmission mains, a reservoir, and distribution centers. It’s part of the compact’s $207 million Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which is expected to benefit more than 750,000 Mozambicans. Just days after that ceremony, we hit another landmark—albeit with far less fanfare. The first group of people displaced by the project’s activities in the Quelimane area received compensation payments. Almost 140 of the 423 people affected by the project received payments; 26 of them opted to receive new houses, the contracts for which have already been signed. They will likely have greater access to social services as part of a planned community.
The Quelimane activity is designed to improve drainage and reduce flooding, which should lower the rate of diseases like cholera and malaria, as well as allow for the expansion of the road system into the area.
Prime Minister Ali’s brick was the first of many to be laid, and hundreds of others affected by the Quelimane project will soon receive their checks—but this month’s events were huge steps on the path of helping northern Mozambicans escape poverty.