- Xiii, how good it is to see this... It has been long since I read an article this good in the paper. Seems like the lives of the children of our country have improved lately. There’s a lot that needs to be done of course, but we’re beginning to see some progress.
- What are you talking about, Grandma Elisa? What are you reading?
- My child, in this newspaper there is a summary of a study on the situation of children in the country. It is good because it talks about what is alright but also about what needs to be done.
- That’s great Grandma! Tell me what the article says to see if it’s true.
- Well, for example, some things that are good are that many children are studying, also that there are more teachers and many children now sleeping under mosquito nets for protection, which is why there are less children dying from malaria. Another positive thing is that more children are receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS and also vaccines to prevent many diseases. It’s all in the paper.
- Is that true, Grandma? How great! And what does it say about the things that are wrong?
- In the article they call them challenges, because there are still many children that do not complete their education or that do not learn much in school. Many health centers lack nurses and doctors and there are many young girls who get married before they are 18 years old. I felt a little ashamed to know there are many Mozambicans who still use the bushes as bathrooms.
- Xiii... and some of those things are happening in our community!
- Well, it’s true Vitória, and it is necessary to have this information in order to know what to do. To solve these many of these problems money is needed, or how do they call it...Investment. That is why it is important that our leaders and authorities make good use of the public´s money, what they call budget.
- Then...it is the government the one in charge of doing that?
- Yes, it is their responsibility. They are elected by the people to represent everyone, from the eldest to the youngest, from the richest to the most poor. The government has to work so that there is progress and everyone’s lives improve.
- Progress... like many buildings and new roads?
- Yes, but true progress cannot be measured by buildings, but by the quality of the lives of people living there. My child, do you think people are healthy? That they have education? Or are protected from violence? Have clean water to drink? Can speak up their minds? It is important that we all know these things. We must know how our people are doing, especially our children, who are the majority in our country.
- But what does budget have to do with that?
- Listen child, it is important to know these things, to know how the government decides to spend the money it has to develop our communities. This is how it has to be, child. Mozambique is a large nation and sometimes people have to live in difficult areas where life is very hard.
- Xiii like Ze’s family!
- Exactly...like Zé. Many children die before turning 5 years old because of diseases and lack of care. They are the ones our leaders have to reach out to. Children, women and adults in general have to walk miles to get to school or a health center, and often when they arrive, there is a lack of materials, electricity or personnel.
- Hold on, grandma. How do we know all these things? About the state of our country’s children and how the government spends money to solve their problems?
- I don’t know! But I think the government sometimes reaches out to families to find out how they are doing. Remember when we were visited by a person in a uniform and with papers, who asked us many questions about our family, our health, if we had studied and more? I know the government researches about these things, so it can gather information about our lifestyle and our situation. For example, if you had to take care of our community but didn’t know how the people are doing and their main issues, you wouldn’t even know where to start.
- It is true, Grandma. I am beginning to understand. It would be hard to guess who needs what... I think I wouldn’t even know how to spend the money.
- That is why the government has to look at all of this information, see where the main problems are for Mozambicans and what those issues are about, to later on decide how to act. The government makes plans for this and needs the budget to make them happen. It is important that we also know these problems and talk to the government about them to make sure our money is well spent.
- So more important than improving buildings and roads is to use the money to improve the education and health of people and children?
- Well, girl, to develop a country you need both. It is also good to improve our infrastructure.
- Excuse me, grandma...what is infra...truc...excuse me, I n f r a s t r u c t u r e?
- Well done! Infrastructure is the construction that is made to improve our country, because beyond the buildings we see, there are also hospitals and schools being build, that are important to everyone. But you are right, our country needs more doctors and nurses, teachers and students and more specialists who can help our children. All that cannot be done by just anyone, it has to be developed bypeople qualified for the job, or else the investment will hold no benefit.
- Xiii... You mean it is not enough to have the money. You have to have the wisdom to spend it in a way that improves our lives today, tomorrow and long after...
- Yes, my child, you are beginning to understand and I like the way you are thinking. It is not just for today and we should not wait to invest in our children.
- Xiii... True Mozambican pride! You know, Grandma? I should have recorded our conversation to later on transmit it through the Community Radio.
- Oh, child! Me? On the radio? I don’t think so. I am too old for that... It is better that you know about the things that are important to think about and discuss them with your friends. If you want to, you can go to the radio, but I willstay here!
Grandma and I started laughing.
In close collaboration with government partners, an updated and comprehensive Situation Analysis on Children in Mozambique (SITAN) was developed. The report contains up-to-date information about the life of children in the country, and is being used as an important tool in advocacy for prioritising children. Exhaustive work of calculating the costs of interventions in the social sector and the fiscal space for investments in the areas of health, education and social protection was developed as a basis for advocacy with the partners to channel larger and better investments focused on children.
UNICEF contributed to the debate on investment in children through the production of Social Sectors Budget Briefs, which are concise and simplified. These summaries analyse the evolution of the budget for health, education and social protection (the latter done in collaboration with the ILO).
Support has been provided at central and decentralised levels to the Ministry of Economy and Finance (National Budget Directorate and National Planning Directorate), to strengthen capacities to elaborate the budget and in Results-Based Management (RBM) principles. Government staff at central, provincial and district levels were trained, with a special focus on the provinces ofTete andZambézia.
In the area of promoting Evidence-Based Public Policy, support was provided to the National Institute of Statistics and the National School of Statistics for the update and national dissemination of Territorial Statistics, which is a decentralised data analysis system intended to serve as the main data base at national level,which includes disaggregated statistics at district level, updated every six months. Targeted support has been given in Zambézia and Tete provinces, with the provision of on-the-job training for statisticstechnicians at the district level, to improve the quality of data collection and consequent analysis.