Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Mozambique relies on external funding for her budget

Maputo: Heavily reliant on external aid, more than forty percent of her state budget needs, Mozambique, with ten provinces, grapples with disparities in budgetary allocations for her 21 million people.

An economist and academic, Albino Francisco, of the nongovernmental organization Foundation for the Development of the Community (FDC), has urged the government to respond to calls for the reduction in its dependence on external aid for the critical water and sanitation sector.

The country receives 85 percent in foreign aid for its water and sanitation sector and it is feared it falls far short of meeting its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Both Unicef and FDC have warned that failure to address the critical aspects of the state budget with regards to social budgeting with particular emphasis on children in vulnerable situations might create social tensions as witnessed recently by violent protests against escalating food and fuel prices that left 13 dead and over 400 wounded.

“We need to look at development with equity against the background of the recent civil unrest at all stages of planning. We have to admit that there has been a lot of progress in development over the years but at the same time this progress has been accompanied by disparities. Developmental progress has not been spread across 20 percent of the poorest quintels,” said the United Nations Fund for Children (Unicef) Representative in Mozambique Dr. Roberto de Bernardi during a stake holders budget briefing this week.

The Unicef head honcho said children in the lowest levels are more prone to diseases, such as malnutrition, while high mortality rates are also prevalent.

It was also noted that the urban rural divide affects development and the government implored to look at the state budget in a different way by redirecting public spending, strengthening public finance management based on participatory role of the civil society and children.

The looked at the budget from the perspective of women and children whether Mozambique policies translate into actions after identifying gaps and discrepancies with a view to influence the government in the next budget.

Dr. de Bernardi observed that the centralized resource management has given rise to disparities in resource allocation per capita across provinces. While Unicef cannot dictate to the government how resources must be managed, it nevertheless continues to play the role of making technical information accessible to people and provides facts that can help the government to better prioritize on planning and budgeting.

UNICEF said in a study released this week that the global community can save millions of lives by investing first in the most disadvantaged children and communities. Such an approach would also address the widening disparities that are accompanying progress toward the MDGs.

The findings were presented in two publications, “Narrowing the Gaps to Meet the Goals” and “Progress for Children, Achieving the MDGs with Equity”.

While great progress is being made in international efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals, much more needs to be done over the next five years.

By comparing the effectiveness of different strategies for delivering critical health interventions to those in greatest need, the study found that targeting to the poorest and most disadvantaged children could save more lives per US $1 million spent than the current path.

The study was undertaken in consultation with a range of outside experts, who described the main findings as both surprising and significant.

“The results of the UNICEF study made me think that the equity focus can be persuasive on an instrumental as well as a values basis,” said Lawrence Haddad, Director of the respected Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, author of the blog, Development Horizons, and a participant in the working group of outside experts who reviewed the study’s preliminary modeling.
Some of the findings of the UNICEF study include:

An equity-focused approach improves returns on investment, averting many more child and maternal deaths and episodes of stunting than the alternative.

Using the equity approach, a US $1 million investment in reducing under-five deaths in a low-income, high-mortality country would avert an estimated 60% more deaths than the current approach.

Because national burdens of disease, ill health and illiteracy are concentrated in the most impoverished child populations, providing these children with essential services can greatly accelerate progress towards the MDGs and reduce disparities within nations.

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