Amidst the decaying ruins of an abandoned offshore trading post off the coast of northern Mozambique, Princess Zahra Aga Khan on Monday recognised the determination of disadvantaged littoral communities and their womenfolk, in particular, to extricate themselves from inherited and seasonal cycles of poverty. An administrative centre dating back to the Portuguese settlement in the 17th century, this almost forgotten town, is one of a number of rural locales visited by Princess Zahra in the course of a two-day visit to Mozambique.
Princess Zahra was reviewing a series of successful beginnings to innovative development initiatives launched by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), including projects in some of the country's poorest districts. From a low-cost processing centre conceived and managed by women on lbo Island, to groundnut seed multiplication, sesame and sunflower oil pressing, chicken farming a and livestock production in villages along the north coast, the AKDN's Coastal Rural Support Programme (CRSP) has found ways to stimulate entrepreneurship in ways that simultaneously speed income growth, develop skills and improve the resource base.
Earlier, Princess Zahra visited a number of villages in the Province's Quissanga District including Maua, where she witnessed livestock distribution to women entrepreneurs, Niyico, where she reviewed the implementation of new seed technologies, and Bilbiza, where the CRSP is supporting teacher training for women.
Early indicators reflect the success of the Programme in its two years of operation to date. Agricultural incomes are expected to increase by 85 per cent in the current year. Fishery production increased by 60 per cent in the two pilot groups with whom the Programme had worked. Pilot livestock production and management schemes are being replicated. New prospects have been found for the commercialisation of agricultural and fisheries products. Two primary schools and an agricultural training school have benefited from rehabilitation.
On Sunday, Princess Zahra met with Mozambique's Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi and Education Minister Alcido Eduardo Nguenha and visited a 23-hectare site in the city of Matola on which the Aga Khan Education Services (AKES) will build a "centre of excellence". The AKES plans similar centres of excellence in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, the Kirgyz Republic, Madagascar, Tajikistan, Tanzania and Uganda. Each site will have professional development centres connected with the Aga Khan University's Institute for Educational Development (IED), established in collaboration with the AKDN educational institutions and programmes. These ventures include the Aga Khan University, with campuses in Asia, Africa and Europe, the University of Central Asia, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture's humanities project, its music initiative, its global electronic community ArchNet, as well as educational programmes at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.