Community building for economic empowerment in rural Mozambique: An exploratory study in the Maganja da Costa District
Thesis (MPhil (Sustainable Development Planning and Management))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.
Though the Maganja da Costa District in Mozambique has potential for the development of natural resources, the District is neither economically self-reliant nor empowered and is the poorest within the country. Thus, the research question set for this study is: What are the main factors that inhibit poor people in the study area from effectively using local resources for their livelihoods and what possible alternatives could enable them to achieve economic empowerment? In an attempt to answer the question, the following aspects were investigated: the systems of local resources, product and indigenous knowledge use and management; the local mechanisms of acquiring and sharing information, knowledge and skills; the obstacles to acquiring and sharing information, knowledge and skills; the influence of such obstacles on the management of local resources and livelihood strategies, as well as on the community’s organisational, leadership and entrepreneurship capacity. An exploratory study was conducted in the study area using the qualitative method, involving participatory action research. A comparative literature review and field work was conducted in order to collect the data. Raw data were collected in two phases: While pilot research took place over 5 days, more extensive research took place over 21 days. During the extensive research, in-depth household interviews were conducted, using semi-structured personal interviews, focus group interviews and discussions, direct observations and cross-checking methods employing a sample size of 101 respondents randomly selected and 10 key informants. The Statistical Programme of Social Science (SPSS) was used to process and analyse the raw data. The results show that the main factors that inhibited poor people in the study area from effectively using local resources and products for their livelihood were: i) a lack of knowledge, skills and talents; ii) the inadequate mechanisms in place for sharing local information, knowledge and skills; iii) the ineffective community organisation and leadership; iv) a lack of entrepreneurship skills and capabilities; v) the inadequate existing infrastructure, transport and trading systems; vi) a low level of partnership and networking; vi) a disruption of socio-cultural cohesion; and vi) inadequate mechanisms for planning, implementation and management of local development strategies, programmes and projects by local government. Most of the government’s development strategies in Mozambique focus on economic growth, which does not necessarily entail the economic empowerment of poor people. The role of traditional leadership has been neglected, which has resulted in the disruption of traditional values and belief systems that might otherwise have positively contributed to socio-cultural cohesion. The role that community building could play in assisting poor people in the study area to establish common values, and to develop collective goals and actions, should enable them to acquire and/or share information, knowledge, skills and talents in such a way as to strengthen themselves. Such strengthening of organisational, leadership and entrepreneurship capacities and skills could significantly contribute to attaining economic self-reliance, poverty alleviation and sustainable development, if the community building approach were to be adequately applied. Additional research is required in order to identify appropriate mechanisms for making further advances in applying such an approach in rural Mozambique, especially in the study area.