Maputo — Mozambique’s Minister of Science and Technology, Louis Pelembe, said in Maputo on Thursday that scientific knowledge, combined with local knowledge, is generating new wisdom in the country’s Millennium Villages, which is contributing to sustainable social and economic development.
Speaking at a meeting drawing up a balance sheet of the achievements of the Millennium Villages, Pelembe said that these community organisations have proved to be spaces where scientists, national and foreign students and members of the public undertake experiments which, if successful, can be reproduced to the benefit of local communities.
Mozambique has been implementing the Millennium Villages programme since 2006. There are now six such villages – at Lionde and Chibuto, in Gaza province, Lumbo and Itoculo, in Nampula, Malua in Zambezia, and Chitima in Tete.
The villages have allowed communities to be organised in community development associations or committees that facilitate the appropriation of scientific knowledge in order to mobilise citizens to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Henrique Cau, director of the Research and Technology Transfer Centre (CITT), presenting a report on the first cycle (2009-2012) of the three most recent villages (Malua, Itoculo and Lionde), said that, based on this programme, 8,800 peasant farmers are receiving direct assistance.
These beneficiaries have increased the area under cultivation and have introduced new crops. Household barns and community warehouses have been built, and a chain of agricultural production has been established.
Cau said that the new warehouses allow the community committees to preserve crops so that they can be sold at times of shortage, which should provide income and ensure the sustainability of the villages.
He said this was how the villages are managing to build or rehabilitate irrigation schemes or schools, and to purchase school materials.
In the area of health, he added, 3,487 mosquito nets have been distributed in the three villages, 17 community midwives have been trained, and meetings have been organised on HIV/AIDS, attended by about 8,000 people.
Two health units have been equipped, and one “waiting house” has been built where pregnant women can stay before they give birth.
In the older villages (Chibuto, Lumbo and Chitima), where management has already passed into the hands of the communities, Cau said that activities are continuing at a good pace.
In Chitima, for example, an irrigation system has been installed, and pavilions have been built to train poultry farmers. A Rural Development Centre, covering four hectares, has been set up, and 100 farmers have been trained in various agricultural techniques.
In Lumbo, which is on the coats, a second fishing boat has been built, as well as three classrooms at the local school. 56 people have been trained in information technologies, and seven projects financed with micro-credit are being monitored.