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Tuesday, 9 May 1989
Page: 2120

Senator PETER BAUME(10.24) —Along with many other senators and members of the House of Representatives, I belong to an organisation in the Parliament that supports the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF. Today I have been contacted by Mr Robert Nestdale, the National Director of UNICEF Australia, who has just returned from southern Africa. He drew to my attention a crisis in Mozambique which is affecting the nation and its children. At the request of Mr Nestdale, I am bringing this information before the Parliament tonight, and I wish to advise honourable senators of some of the dimensions of that tragedy. Mr Nestdale was kind enough to make available to me an emergency information note which has been provided by UNICEF to him and which sets out some of the dimensions of what is going on in Mozambique. I will just read the first few words of it. It says:

Mozambique is gripped by an emergency of appalling dimensions. Destabilization war and its cumulative effects continue to plague a country already affected by repeated droughts and shortages of basic goods.

It goes on to point out that the emergency affects over one-third of the population, especially women and children. It points out that most of the public services and most of the infrastructure in the country are absent or have broken down and that we can expect an appalling and major loss of life, especially among children, in that country. In keeping with the promise I have made to Mr Nestdale, I seek the permission of the Senate to have incorporated in Hansard a one-page letter from Mr Nestdale which sets out the problem, together with the emergency information note, which is some five or six pages long.

Leave granted.

The documents read as follows-




United Nations Children's Fund

GPO 2541, Sydney, Australia 2001.

Phone 235 3966, Fax 223 6060

14th Floor, 169 Phillip Street, Sydney 2000

9 May 1989

Senator The Honourable Peter Baume

Parliament House


FAX (062) 77 3785

Dear Senator Baume

As you know I have just returned from southern Africa.

Australia's reputation remains high in Africa and this is no doubt the result of the active assistance by the Fraser and Hawke Governments and the very effective work being done by Australian agencies. When Africans hear that you are from Australia they don't hesitate ``to put out the welcome mat'', as Senator Gareth Evans so readily found on his recent visit.

It is especially distressing that southern African nations again face serious famine and savage disruption to their societies and economies.

One country in particular is in awful distress and that is Mozambique where for example, over 350 children of each 1000 will not reach their 5th birthday this year. Together with Afghanistan that is the worst situation on earth.

Details are set out in the 1989 State of the World's Children Report which was sent recently to every parliamentarian. We also have the latest edition of ``Children on The Front Line'' which we have sent to the Parliamentary Library.

Because we sometimes hear from the uninformed that Australia's foreign aid program should ``turn its back on Africa'', I am enclosing a copy of the E'Mail note I received today from Mozambique on the rapidly deteriorating situation. I hope you can share this with your colleagues so Mozambique's women and children will receive the compassionate assistance they so urgently need.

The note sets out so clearly why Mozambique's women and children and UNICEF's program must remain a priority, and I'm sure you will be actively working with Prime Minister Hawke, Foreign Minister Evans and Opposition Leader Peacock to achieve this.

If I can help further, do let me know.

Yours Sincerely

Robert Nestdale



8 May 1989


Mozambique is gripped by an emergency of appalling dimensions. Destabilization war and its cumulative effect continue to plague a country already affected by repeated droughts and shortages of basic goods.

According to a recent situation report famine is threatening many districts in Nampula, Zambezia and Niassa provinces. Hunger related deaths are on the rise, in Memba alone they number 5,200. A cholera outbreak has been reported in Tete for which UNICEF has financed an airlift of some 11 tonnes of medicine and hospital equipment. Urgent food airlifts are required for the affected provinces; in some totally isolated areas, the government is considering air dropping of relief supplies.

In spite of major humanitarian efforts by the international community for the past several years, the suffering of the affected population of Mozambique continues unabated. Armed attacks appear to be increasing in many provinces causing further destruction to the fragile productive and social service sector. Following a UN interagency review of the emergency programme, a renewed two-year appeal for emergency support to Mozambique was issued by the UN Secretary General for US$380 million, replacing the March 1988 Appeal.

Within the context of this revised appeal, UNICEF is now seeking approximately US$18 million for 1989-1990 to meet the basic needs of the emergency affected population, especially vulnerable women and children.


Underdevelopment was the legacy to Mozambique at independence in 1975. Since then the country has been facing reported droughts and a long destablization war which have caused the overall production to fall dramatically.

National and local food supply and distribution systems have come close to collapse and physical infrastructure has largely been destroyed. Acts of sabotage against factories, farms, railway lines, convoys, roads and bridges have hampered the recovery of production and transportation of goods to markets both inside the country and abroad.

The Economic Rehabilitation Programme (PRE) introduced in 1987 has succeeded in restoring 4-5 percent economic growth. But this is not enough. Internally marketed food production still remains under 10% of the requirements for the urban and emergency affected population. Large numbers of displaced people moving from insecure rural areas to larger and small towns have increased the population in many areas putting pressure on supplies. Many urban families who shelter relatives fleeing from the countryside have greater difficulty in affording basic foods.

Basic public services no longer exist in many parts of the country. Health facilities, schools, water and road systems are not functioning in many areas. According to Government estimates 36% of the rural health facilities have been affected. Moreover, the capacity in terms of trained manpower and appropriate materials to provide basic services has been lost.

On the economic side, exports in 1988 remained at less than 15% of the already low levels of imports, and the country's annual debt service obligations continued to exceed, although by a lesser amount, its export earnings. The income per capita has dropped from over US$200 in 1975 to US$125-150 today, and is estimated to be one of the lowest in the world.


Approximately 37% of the total population is affected by the continuous emergency situation: some 1.6 million people have been recently displaced within the country, a further million have fled to neighbouring states and more than 2.87 million are currently suffering from food shortages due to drought, breakdown of transport systems and other factors. More generally over 50% of the population presently depend on food aid. A threat of famine is reported today in many districts of the country and the number of deaths from starvation is on the rise.

Along with food shortfalls, the affected population commonly experiences almost complete lack of access to clothing, footwear, clean water supplies and basic household utensils for cooking, shelter construction and production activities.

Child malnutrition is very serious. According to estimates from the Ministry of Health, the rate of acute malnutrition among children is 10.3%. However it reaches 48% in centres for displaced people, the rates being particularly high among recent arrivals and where resettlements and resumption of farming has not yet been possible.

Child and infant mortality rates are estimated to be among the highest in the world (350 per thousand and 200 per thousand respectively). They are the result of easily treated conditions such as diarrhoea and respiratory infections. The incidence of deaths from measles and malaria is believed to be rising rapidly in rural areas.

Indications of increased malnutrition among women have come from the rise in incidence of low birth weights as measured in maternity wards in the main hospitals. Such levels have reached over 25% in some places.

Large numbers of orphaned, abandoned, traumatized and disabled children are a particular feature of the Mozambician emergency situation. Children who have lost their parents in the process of displacement or who have fled alone during village or school attacks, children who have seen their parents killed and who have been psychologically affected or physically disabled by war-related experiences. The total number of these children is estimated at approximately 250,000.


Since 1984 UNICEF has initiated 35 projects to address the emergency situation. These projects fall into three basic categories: immediate, short-term relief to war and drought affected populations; medium-term measures designed to stabilize household productivity and income, and to improve access and delivery of basic social services; long-term development efforts, particularly capacity building. The latter is explained by the fact that the Mozambique Emergency Programme is structurally integrated with the regular on-going Country Programme of UNICEF's assistance to Mozambique.

About half of UNICEF's inputs have been devoted to immediate relief measures. Specific activities have included provision of cooking, utensils, clothing, medicines, vaccines, medical equipment, and other basic supplies. Transport facilities have also been provided including airlifts to isolated regions requiring urgent assistance. In a few critical situations, UNICEF has provided food relief primarily with in-kind donations received from external donors for this purpose. UNICEF has been involved in both shallow water and tubewell projects.


Basic health care-total funds required: US$6,407,000.

Currently, more than 30% of the health units in the country are not functioning due to direct attacks, poor accessibility, assaults on staff or lack of supplies.

Rehabilitation of basic health facilities and services, and supply of vital drugs and surgical materials are the main points of this component.

UNICEF is concentrating its assistance in three provinces: Tete, Manica and Sofala. Funds are already available for the programmes in Tete and Manica provinces which aim at upgrading and rehabilitating services of the regional health system through an integrated approach. A provincial programme of a similar nature is to be implemented in Sofala province. An adequate minimum of supply of the most important drugs and medical equipment has to be ensured, the most urgent needs being for ``vital medicines'' used for the treatment of people injured or otherwise affected by war.

Children in difficult circumstances

Another important part of the emergency programme will focus on assistance to the estimated 250,000 children in difficult circumstances. Broad-based approaches are to be used to successfully deal with such a large number of children. One of these approaches is the use of primary schools as a means of reaching and organizing appropriate activities and attention for these children. Low-cost community based pre-school can be established for younger children.

The project will include training of pre-school organizers, construction materials, development manuals, and provision of equipment for children activities. The project will also support the strengthening of capacity, both at national and provincial levels of the Social Welfare Department of the Ministry of Health. This agency is responsible for the collection of data on children in difficult circumstances, liaison with communities to assist vulnerable groups, tracing of families, support to institutions such as creches and orphanages, and assistance to street children and delinquents. The project will focus on training of personnel and on equipment supply.

Primary education-total funds required: US$4,038,000

In the last year, as a result of the war, the number of primary schools functioning has dropped dramatically. By late 1987 it was estimated that in some provinces, such as Maputo, Niassa, Sofala, Zambezia and Tete, between 50% and 81% of primary schools were not functioning. A total of half a million children are estimated to have been denied access to minimum conditions of primary education.

A reconstruction and rehabilitation programme has been initiated by UNICEF focusing in 1989 on the priority provinces of Zambezia, Tete and Nampula, and extending in 1990 to three further provinces: Niassa, Inhambane and Maputo. The programme has two parts:

reconstruction and equipping with basic school materials of classrooms in areas of high concentration of displaced families, and where school infrastructure has been damaged. The reconstruction programme will rely almost entirely on local materials and community self-help inputs.

training programmes for teachers to provide special attention to war-affected children of primary school age and provision of a research and programme development capacity in the Ministry of Education for increasing the use of primary schools as means of reintegration and assistance to war-affected children.

Drinking water programmes-total funds required: US$1,190,000

The water component of the programme is composed of two drinking water projects in the Province of Sofala and of an ongoing project aiming at strengthening central management capacity in the rural water supply sector.

Many displaced people are established and continue to concentrate in the Beira Corridor, a relatively secure zone due to the presence of Mozambican and Zimbabwean troops. Two projects are being implemented in the area. The first one is an ongoing project which aims at providing potable water for war-affected and displaced population along the Beira Corridor and to the rural drought-affected population at large. The project will benefit approximately 47,500 people. It will also support the provincial water-supply community participation and education programme.

The second will focus particularly on providing drinking water to Nhamatanda, hardly a small town until a few years ago, now counting some 12,000 inhabitants due to large resettling of displaced population. Drinking water distribution to the increased population of the town is a major problem, further complicated by the existence of only scarce and salty groundwater which has made impossible the implementation of rapid schemes such as shallow wells and deep tube-wells.

The project aiming at strengthening central management capacity was originally financed by the Swedish Government through UNICEF. It was formulated to help meet the managerial and technical demands of the rapidly expanding rural water supply programme.

Phase II of this project will continue to support-through technical expertise and equipment-the national agencies working in rural water supply; particularly the National Rural Water Supply Programme (PRONAR) whose Head Office is responsible for the co-ordination of all rural water supply activities throughout the country.

Logistics support-total funds required US$1,380,000

The objective of this component is to replenish the air transport fund which as of mid 1985 has allowed the provision of essential commodities such as medical equipment, vaccines, blankets and therapeutic foods to unreachable areas. Funding is required to carry on airlift operations as many provinces remain out of reach by road due to continuing insecurity and now to the rainy season. As of February 1989 the Funds for the Emergency airlift were completely exhausted.

Relief and survival item-total funds required US$2,100,000

The large war-effected displaced population faces acute shortages of the most basic items for everyday's life, such as soap, clothing, shelter etc. These precarious conditions often result in higher infant mortality and disease conditions.

The relief and survival items supply effort will concentrate mainly in the province of Tete, Manica and Zambezia. Items required include, clothing, shoes, blankets, soap, cooking utensils, hand-tools for house constructions as well as tents and water tanks.

As part of this component, a ``Quick Action Fund'' will be established by the Government in Maputo, by retaining a small stockpile of the most essential items, as a means to be able to respond quickly to emergency needs as they arise. Part of these stockpiles will be kept in the three provinces of concentration of UNICEF support to this sector.

Agricultural and rural rehabilitation-total funds required US$685,000

Since the start of the Emergency Programme in 1984, UNICEF has been carrying out integrated projects for the resettlement of displaced and returnees and for the rehabilitation of household incomes and production following drought. Family self- sufficiency is sought through the development of agricultural production and non-farm family incomes, and the provision of essential health, education and water services to the communities. An element of institutional strengthening of local authorities is also included.

These integrated projects have been implemented primarily in areas of high concentration of displaced in the provinces of Manica, Tete and Zambezia. The number of displaced and returnees has continued to grow especially in Manica (Espungabera and Beira corridor) and in Zambezia (Ile District), and is expected to grow further. The integrated rural projects will therefore be continued in order to give the growing population the means to providing to their own needs.

Institutional support-total funds required US$2,090,000

This component is made of two parts:

(1) Strengthening the national and local emergency structures. The objectives of this project are: to rapidly upgrade the capacity of the Department for Prevention and Combat of Natural Calamities (DPCCN), a national body established in 1987 for improving the decision-making and management of the short-term relief and logistics components of the national emergency programme.

And to strengthen capabilities of the Provincial Emergency Commissions (CPES), which were established for co-ordinating and planning for emergency response, as well as for collecting and analyzing information and assessing emergency conditions at the local level.

Activities will include staff training in emergency management, technical assistance and the supply of basic materials for planning and operations. They will be concentrated in the Provinces of Zambezia, Manica and Tete as continuation of activities already begun in 1988. NGOs are expected to assist similar projects in other provinces.

(2) Covering staffing, administrative and logistical costs of UNICEF's Emergency Programme of Assistance over the next two years. This programme is managed and co-ordinated by an Emergency Unit operating within UNICEF's office in Maputo.




Basic health care ...


Primary education ...


Drinking water programmes ...


Logistics support ...


Relief and survival items ...


Agricultural and rural rehabilitation ...


Institutional support ...


Total ...


Senator PETER BAUME —I thank the Senate. These documents will make known to honourable senators the dimension of the tragedy. It is clear from the briefing note that UNICEF is looking to the support of all developed countries-for money and other resources-in trying to meet this emergency, and it is my hope that Australia will do its part. Those of us who belong to the parliamentary group supporting UNICEF will certainly do our part in trying to see that that comes about.