neighboring countries while another four million were displaced. In the countryside, women and
children were the main victims of atrocities, and hundreds of thousands of people were cut off
from the basic means of survival. It is estimated that almost one million people were killed during
the war and that over 500,000 children were torn from their families.
Then, as if the war were not enough, in the early 1990s, Mozambique experienced its worst
drought in seventy years. As there were huge food shortages, even more people left the fertile
lands that still remained under cultivation. Fortunately, the drought did not result in mass famine,
because drought is no stranger to Mozambique and the people have developed survival
strategies. Many managed to flee to areas where food aid was being distributed, or they survived
by eating unusual foods, like wild roots.
The coming of the rains coincided, in 1992, with the signing of a general cease fire between the
government and RENAMO. Slowly, those who had fled to neighboring countries or had been
internally displaced began to return to their homes. Now the government, RENAMO, aid
agencies, and communities themselves have begun the massive task of repairing roads and
rebuilding the bridges, wells, schools, and health centers that were destroyed. And agriculture is
slowly being revitalized as previously unsecured areas and roads are opening up.
Conflict, drought, and, in a different way, peace, have all combined to put Mozambique in a
chronic emergency situation. Between mid-1992 and the end of 1994, a United Nations force was
in place to keep the peace. The task was relatively easy given the desire on the part of
Mozambicans themselves for peace.
The peace process culminated in the holding of the country's first multi-party election October 2729, 1994. President Joaquim Chissano and his ruling FRELIMO party were announced the victors
on November 19th, receiving 43.3 percent of the 4.95 million votes cast as opposed to 33.7
percent for his rival, Alfonso Dhlakama and the RENAMO party. The elections were hailed as free
and fair with almost 90 percent of registered voters turning out at the polls--a significant feat as
many voters had to travel for as long as a whole day just to reach the polling station.
The newly elected Government faces a truly difficult task. Mozambique's debt burden is one of
the world's highest and represents four times the country's gross domestic product. Over 80
percent of the population live in absolute poverty, and UNICEF estimates that death from disease
or lack of food continues to threaten as many as three million, or more than one-third of all
children in Mozambique.
While times are hard for everyone, one of the most vulnerable groups in Mozambique is the
urban poor who possess little or no land to grow crops. Many urban dwellers are people who
once lived off the land, but fled to the safety of the cities during the war. For them, food is no
longer something to grow, but something to buy. Prices have risen dramatically since the
introduction of the Economic Structural Recovery Program sponsored by the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 1987, and unemployment is high. Even for those few who
are formally employed, life is tough. Wages have lagged well behind price hikes, and the
minimum monthly wage in 1994 is only about US $13. This makes wages in Mozambique among
the lowest in Africa.
The "Green Zones" Initiative
"Green Zones" is the name frequently given to suburban farm land that surrounds large cities,
such as Mozambique's capital, Maputo. Here most of the produce, chicken, eggs, and other
foodstuffs found in the urban marketplace are grown. Before independence the Green Zones
were primarily underutilized areas not under cultivation. When the Portuguese left, Mozambican
farmers moved onto the land and, over the years, many were able to legalize possession through
local authorities. However, these farmers knew little about agricultural production techniques.
At about the same time, in an attempt to stimulate agricultural production, the government forced
many farmers to work on large, state-run farms. But, these unmanageable "cooperatives" were
not highly productive, primarily because the people themselves received few of the benefits and
thus were not committed to the movement. They continued to live off their own personal plots,
which they farmed after putting in their required hours on the "people's" farms. Not surprisingly,
many Mozambicans today are wary of any attempts at collectivization until they can clearly see
the benefit of participation.

Seeds [1995], 17 - 2/13