There are 11,315,000 children in Mozambique, most in poverty with 42% in some provinces such as Gaza, having stunted growth; most won't live much past their fortieth birthday, nearly one in five will contract HIV/AIDS and four out of five will live in rural areas lacking clean water and other essential services. Much of this enduring poverty can be put down to the civil war from 1977 to 1992 that ravaged the infrastructure and population of the country coupled with flooding, droughts (overall 48.2% of the population is at risk from either floods or droughts) and an uneducated workforce who struggle to capitalize on the country's as yet largely untapped oil and gas reserves.
Education for children in Mozambique is both free and compulsory up until the age of 12yrs however books and other essentials are not, putting it beyond the reach of many poor families. There are currently 700,000 children out of school in the country; many of them girls and those who do attend are faced with teachers who have been poorly educated themselves and run down schools without the bare essentials of desks or even chairs with many, in class sizes of around 90, having to learn whilst sitting on a dirt floor. Around 14.4 million out of the country's 23.4 million population live in rural communities relying on traditional and unmodernised subsistence farming to survive with most living in food insecurity being most vulnerable to the regular natural disasters that befall the country. The main crops include maize, cassava, rice, sorghum, millet, cowpeas and groundnuts. The average farm size is 1.4 hectares and is called a called ‘machamba’.
Children in Mozambique normally have around two siblings and they face an uncertain future living in one of the world's highest rates of HIV prevalence countries which is currently running at 11.5%. The problem is so acute that of the country's 2,100,000 orphans, 25% of them have been orphaned through AIDS. With 85 babies being born HIV+ every day in Mozambique it is estimated that 19,000 children will die each year from the virus, many because of poor access to health facilities. One of the issues in Mozambique for many children is not having a birth certificate. That may not seem important, but without such a document they cannot prove who they are or that they have a right to live in their own country. This video (below) shows Mozambique children attending their school as part of the Schools for Africa project, (a partnership between UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Hamburg Society).
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