Mozambique is a beautiful country with enormous potential underpinned by vast natural resources and an optimal location. With 2500 km of coastline boasting three major harbours, which are linked by rail to its neighbours (Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and South Africa), Mozambique is responsible for 70% of goods transit in SADC (the Southern African Development Community).
Yet, despite economic improvements over the past decade, Mozambique remains one of the most aid-dependent countries in the world, with nearly half the population living in poverty.
Lack or poor quality of education is cited as a major cause of unemployment and an increasing concern in a country with a rapidly growing population. Of those children who do finish primary school, the majority (two thirds) leave without basic reading, writing and numeric skills.
70% of Mozambicans live in rural areas and are dependent on the natural environment for their livelihoods – from land for agriculture to water, timber as well as fish and bushmeat.
It is, therefore, unsurprising, that the greatest challenge to conservation is unmanaged and uncontrolled use of natural resources.
Benguerra Island is part of the Bazaruto Archipelago, 14km off the coast of Mozambique. The Archipelago consists of 6 islands that are collectively a National Park – due to their natural beauty and marine biodiversity.
Benguerra Island is home to approx. 1,500 residents, who live a very simple life. There is no water supply or electricity on the island.
Africa Foundation has supported the Government and Islanders efforts to establish a clinic on Benguerra, as well as funding the construction of accommodation for medical staff to live on the island.
Benguerra Island is a focal point for marine conservation activities as part of Oceans Without Borders, including Marine Conservation lessons to share knowledge on why and how to protect the marine environment.
Vamizi Island – part of the Quirimbas Islands in Northern Mozambique, lies at the heart of one of the Earth’s most biologically diverse marine ecosystems, with the second highest coral reef biodiversity in the world. These reefs are uniquely resilient to coral bleaching, therefore increasingly important in the face of climate change impacts.
Alongside increasing impacts from a changing climate, growing human populations, oil and gas extraction is set to significantly impact the region’s social and ecological systems. Balancing the region’s need for development with protection of its natural riches is among Mozambique’s greatest and most pressing challenges.
Africa Foundation is working with the communities of Vamizi Island to establish their developmental priorities and share knowledge and understanding through the Oceans Without Borders initiative, around the importance of engaging in conservation.