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Living with poverty: Mozambique

Rafael, a camponês and an artisan, who took part in the Living with Poverty project in Mozambique

Rafael, a camponês and an artisan, who took part in the Living with Poverty project in Mozambique

These testimonies are a powerful reminder of the human indignities that lie at the heart of poverty and why effective approaches to poverty reduction matter. The stories bring to life the reality of poverty and its daily oppressions.

Living with poverty: Mozambique testimonies

Amélia: women are leaders

Amélia is a farmer – “our custom is agriculture,” she says. But now there is “a serious drought” and she has had to diversify her income. “We only survive from the production of charcoal,” she says. She mentions the importance of animals as security for difficult times, like when someone needs to go to hospital….

Antonio: collective responsibility

Antonio: “For me, poverty is now reduced because I have joined the organizações de camponeses where I find help and a field to cultivate...”

For Antonio, having a field of his own has been an escape from “the midst of poverty”, even enabling him to send his children and grandchildren to school. While he sees education as a priority, he also wants them to appreciate the importance of agriculture and is teaching them “to work in the field”. He…

Arnaldo: teachers sell marks

Arnaldo: “The government does not help camponeses properly, although they say that agriculture is the basis of the economy.”

Family is very important to Arnaldo. He was five when his father abandoned his wife and three children. “We were working in the field so that we could get something to eat,” he recalls. Nine years later they were rescued by Arnaldo’s grandfather, who assumed “all responsibility for us”. Aged 14, Arnaldo was finally able…

Boafesta: cattle are hope

Boafesta talks about the many health issues in his area. Nurses do not stay long at the medical post, the nearest hospital is in Mabalane and pregnant women, who have to walk there, sometimes give birth on the way. Disease is rife. He emphasises the link between ill-health and poverty: “When disease comes there is…

Gomes: working with youth

Gomes lives off intermittent casual work in South Africa and livestock farming in Mabalane. He is gradually building up his animal stock again after the catastrophic loss of all his goats and most of his cattle. His community is “rich in the breeding of livestock” but negotiating a fair price with buyers can be difficult…

Jorgina: the value of cooperatives

Jorgina, from Mozambique, was interviewed as part of the oral testimony project 'Living with poverty'

Jorgina vividly remembers Mozambique’s civil war. When her husband died, leaving her “in absolute poverty” to care for their 10 children, she “had to risk my own life going… to cultivate the fields, and escaping from armed bandits”. It was then that she joined the cooperative, which 30 years later still enables her to “alleviate…

Maria: totally forgotten

Maria

A mother of five, Maria was abandoned by her husband when he left Mabalane to work in South Africa and took up with another woman. She sees this as the main cause of her “extreme poverty”, as well as her loneliness because “A woman without a husband has nobody with whom she can raise her…

Pamira: great suffering

Aged 60 and caring for a sick husband, daughter and granddaughter, Palmira finds the “great suffering” of her existence “more than I can endure”. She manages to survive because the fertile soil where she lives enables her to “make some money to go to the hospital for treatment”, and the hospital and markets are accessible…

Pedro: importance of agriculture

Pedro: “...the majority of poor people do not have access to a means of expressing what they feel; they are not heard.”

Pedro is proud to be “a camponês, and a son of a camponês…” and feels a strong connection to the land. He survives by “working in the fields left by my parents and my grandparents”. He is also a field official and a trainer for UNAC, the national small farmers’ movement. An official recognised his…

Raquelina: only me

Raquelina lost both parents when she was very young and was brought up by a relative “in the midst of poverty”. She is now widowed and two of her children recently died: “Now it is only me. I have to take care of myself.” But she appreciates the help of her neighbours with jobs such…

Rafael: worth nothing

Rafael: “…in our times it was difficult to find a person who had been to school... But now it is different. Every parent wants a school near home... so that their children have access to it…”

Rafael is a camponês and an artisan. His marriage broke down when he was regularly working in South Africa. His wife started “operating as a business-woman” selling maize meal and rice, then moved into the cattle business and was away for months at a time. Now she has not been in contact for 18 months….

Ucilina: living from agriculture

In the early years of Ucilina’s marriage her husband drank heavily: “Thus, my first three children, I had them amidst great suffering, because my husband wasn’t participating…” She vividly remembers the “hell” of the war when they fled their village and for three months slept in bushes or “in the lake, in the water”. Life…

Testimonies

Amélia: women are leaders

Antonio: collective responsibility

Arnaldo: teachers sell marks

Boafesta: cattle are hope

Gomes: working with youth

Jorgina: the value of cooperatives

Maria: totally forgotten

Pamira: great suffering

Pedro: importance of agriculture

Raquelina: only me

Rafael: worth nothing

Ucilina: living from agriculture

Key themes

Infrastructure

Conservation conflicts

Collective action

Overview

Infrastructure

Introduction

Collective action

Livelihood and migration

Support for development

Conservation conflicts

Family

Farming

Education

Health

Conflict

Women’s status

Poverty

Trade and economics