Washington — The Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Rajiv Shah, on Friday reiterated his country's commitment for the expansion of its programmes for Mozambique's development.
This commitment was made during a meeting with Mozambique's First Lady, Maria Guebuza, held on the sidelines of a high level forum convened by the governments of the United States, India and Ethiopia in collaboration with UNICEF on the theme "Child Survival Call to Action", which took place on Thursday and Friday at Georgetown University, in Washington.
According to Shah, a USAID delegation is expected to visit Mozambique between July and August to study the best ways to help Mozambique to develop its agricultural sector. This follows a decision of President Barack Obama's administration to ensure food security in the country.
Currently, Mozambique is among the top 10 African recipients of United States aid.
"Under the G-8 we agreed with Japan to create a basis for joint cooperation to help Mozambique develop its agriculture," said Shah.
On the occasion, the First Lady asked for the USAID support to include livestock production, since it plays a major role in the fight against malnutrition through milk production and its derivatives.
"We want to complete the basis for cooperation to grant adequate resources to meet Mozambique's needs. This program will include livestock production, as in the case of other countries such as Kenya," said Shah.
Maria Guebuza explained that Mozambique is gifted with huge tracts of arable land and water resources, but still lacks the skills and resources to fully exploit its potential, with farming still heavily dependent on rainfall and rudimentary agricultural techniques.
As for child survival initiatives, Rajiv Shah said he was impressed with the efforts made by Mozambican First Lady.
To express his satisfaction, Shah pledged to help the Mozambican authorities to implement country's health programmes for 2013, including vaccination programme against rotavirus and pneumucocus which play a key role for child survival.
Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe gastroenteritis in children, an infection that attacks the stomach and intestines. A large percentage of cases of severe diarrhoea in children under five years are caused by rotavirus.
Pneumucocus, for its part, is a bacterium responsible for many diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis, among others.
USAID Administrator also pledged to help the country on family planning, construction of "casas mãe espera" (houses for expecting women) in rural areas, among other actions which may contribute to safeguard children's and mothers' lives.
Maria da Luz also asked for support on training for paediatricians and multipurpose health workers and provision of mobile clinics.
According to Maria Guebuza, the existing houses for expecting women are small size, with tiny rooms, and built with flimsy materials, and sometimes forced to accommodate over 50 pregnant expectant mothers.
As for the mobile clinics, Maria da Luz explained that play an important role to reduce the distances to reach the nearest health facility. In many cases people still have to walk over 10 kilometres to reach the nearest health centre in rural areas.
Maria da Luz took the opportunity to invite Shah to visit Mozambique to learn on the ground the plight of people, particularly women and children.
In attendance of the meeting were high ranking government officials, including Deputy Health Minister, Nazira Abdula.