UNDP is supporting the observatory at several levels, including strengthening the capacity of its technical secretariat and helping monitor and evaluate how the poverty reduction plan is working in the provinces and local districts.
UNDP is also helping the Government incorporate the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) into the strategy for implementing the poverty reduction plan, along with action for gender equality, mobilization of information and communications technology for development (ICTD), the drive against HIV/AIDS, efforts to lessen the impact of natural disasters, and landmine clearance.
Though peace came a decade ago, ending more than 20 years of conflict, and economic growth has surged, the country is still recovering from war and devastating floods in 2000 and 2001, followed by drought. The HIV/AIDS epidemic poses a major threat, with 13 per cent of adults living with the deadly virus.
The country's first report on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, released last year, spells out the challenges: nearly 70 per cent of Mozambique's 17 million people live below the poverty line, subsisting on less than 40 US cents a day.
Rural areas have the highest poverty rates. Nearly nine in 10 people in centrally-located Sofala province are destitute, while in Maputo, the capital, the situation is somewhat better, with half the population in poverty.
"The reduction of absolute poverty, sustainable social and economic development, and the resulting normal integration of the country into the world market can only come about through a joint effort by all stakeholders," said President Joaquim Chissano at the recent inauguration of the observatory in Maputo.
The event was also the first gathering of national and international partners in the anti-poverty campaign, bringing together government ministers and representatives of civil society organizations, the private sector, donor countries and international organizations.
"We need to identify new ways to increase the impact of our interventions," said UNDP Resident Representative Marylène Spezzati, pointing out that the HIV/AIDS epidemic, food insecurity and poverty need integrated responses.
Participants urged that decentralization -- extending more power and resources to the district level -- be accelerated and cited a participatory planning model UNDP and the UN Capital Development Fund have developed as a way to help accomplish this.
The poverty reduction plan, covering 2000 to 2004, calls for reducing the poverty rate to 60 per cent by 2005 and 50 per cent by 2010. Priorities include support for education (only one child in five went to primary school in the late 1990s), boosting agricultural production and rural development, improving basic infrastructure, promoting good governance and upgrading financial and economic management.
For further information please contact Nelson Xavier (firstname.lastname@example.org), UNDP Mozambique, or Cassandra Waldon (email@example.com), UNDP Communications Office.