There has been a serious deficit of good news in Mozambique for quite some time. The recent release of Mozambique's Fourth Poverty Assessment, based on a large nationally representative household survey conducted in 2014-15, provides a welcome shift. The report finds that, relative to the prior survey undertaken in 2008-09, significant gains have been made in Mozambique's fight to reduce poverty and improve living conditions across an array of measures and approaches.
Over the last 25 years, Mozambique has nearly halved the share of its population consuming below a basic needs poverty line. Comparisons with other countries in Africa and elsewhere are also generally very favourable in terms of trends. Mozambique remains poor. But it is now approaching the living standard levels of other low income African countries, like Tanzania. The report was released at the end of October in the midst of an unfolding macroeconomic crisis which was provoked by a number of factors. These include the reemergence of open hostilities between the ruling Frelimo party and its old foe, the opposition party Renamo. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international partners stopped disbursing funds to Mozambique after revelations that the previous government of President Armando Guebuza failed to disclose official backing of a series of large loans to state owned companies. And, the much lower world prices for coal and natural gas has reduced private investor enthusiasm.
Mozambique's GDP growth in 2016 is expected to be about 3.6%. This will be its lowest by far since 2000. The currency has depreciated massively against the dollar. More expensive imports have stoked inflation, which is currently running at about 25%.
The current crisis reflects a collapse in confidence across a series of key relationships including between Frelimo and Renamo. Relations between the Mozambican government and its international donor partners and investors have been unsettled.
Most importantly, it is difficult to imagine that all this has not eroded people's faith in the state's ability to deliver on broadly shared development objectives.
Yet the poverty assessment reveals that, prior to the crisis, the country had achieved significant improvements in living conditions across multiple indicators. These include monetary measures such as household consumption plus an array of non-monetary measures related to education, water, sanitation, roofing, electricity and possession...