Mozambique’s fifth largest city is also one its fastest growing, which creates both opportunities and challenges.
Mozambique’s fifth largest city is also one its fastest growing, which creates both opportunities and challenges. Look around the city’s 42 neighbourhoods and it’s easy to see the huge disparity in wealth between a small but growing middle class and the vast majority of the population. The young people with whom Micaia works tell a story of social and economic exclusion, of the fruitless search for decent work for a decent wage, of rising crime and violence.
Yet this very exclusion drives the determination of so many young people on which Micaia’s work is based. There really are opportunities in Chimoio, in part because it is at the centre of a Province that has immense potential in agriculture and agro-processing at the heart of the vibrant Beira transport corridor, but realizing these opportunities requires a shift towards a more inclusive vision of growth.
#TheChimoioWeWant is the slogan of one of Micaia Foundation’s current (2020-23) projects, working with young people to help them inform and shape the future of their city. It is an apt way in which to introduce the Theory of Change underpinning Micaia’s work in Chimoio. It emphasises that the city – like all communities – should respond to the needs and interests and ideas of all its citizens. So, our vision for Chimoio is: A city capable of managing its growth and providing all its citizens with both essential services and an environment in which people are able to prosper.
Three years of engagement with young people through a project funded by UNDEF, revealed the extent of social and economic exclusion faced by most young people.
We learned of the struggles to find work, of the concerns about poor quality education, early marriage and teen pregnancy, and of the continuing threat of violence – especially sexual violence. We know that many of these issues affect people of all ages, as do problems of an unhealthy environment, and poor services. We also know that many of the issues can only be addressed through an effective partnership between citizens and the Municipality. This understanding helps frame our mission for work in Chimoio:
To help people in Chimoio, especially younger people, engage effectively with decision making processes and unleash their ability to prosper, enjoying their rights and delivering on their responsibilities.
The hearings will produce position papers and other reports that will be presented to the Municipal Government – which, under the current Mayor’s dynamic leadership, is being very supportive of the project. In parallel, youth groups and neighbourhood associations will be supported in small ways to take action around the priorities that have been set: cleaning up the local environment, for instance. And at the city level, led by the Gonazololo youth association that partners Micaia in its work in Chimoio, we will facilitate the emergence of a Youth Platform, bringing together all youth associations and organizations working with and for young people in the city.
Gonazalolo Facebook page
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Chimoio is included in Micaia Foundation’s national project, Giving for Change, focusing on promoting an enabling environment for and stimulating community philanthropy and community driven development. There is a natural fit in Chimoio with the #TheChimoioWeWant project, as both seek to build momentum for community-driven actions to address local issues and priorities.
In Chimoio, under Giving for Change, Micaia is bringing together local organizations and associations and introducing the concepts and approaches of community philanthropy, and helping build capacity to put theory into practice. We hope that Chimoio can be an example to municipalities across the country.
This 2-year project helped increase awareness among local politicians, community leaders, and the wider citizenry of the challenges facing young people in the city of Chimoio, and of the ideas and initiatives of young people to meet those challenges; to increase activism among young people in general (through boosting capabilities); and to strengthen youth-led civil society groups. One important and lasting outcome of the project was the launch of Gonazalolo, the youth association that continue to work closely with Micaia in the landscape.
Funded by DFID, this project took the Youth Bank model and sought to adapt it for Mozambique. Although we did not manage to build sufficient momentum to launch YouthBank Chimoio, the project did create a pool of young activists, many of whom went on to form local groups and associations, and some of whom stayed involved with Micaia, ultimately launching Gonazalolo.