Research demonstrates that Australia Awards alumni from Mozambique have made significant contributions to food production, disaster risk reduction and emergency response activities.
The Mozambique Case Study is the latest from the Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility and examines the development impact made by Australian Government scholarship alumni who graduated in the fields of agriculture, food security and natural resources between 2001 and 2005.
Managed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) on behalf of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Facility is exploring the long-term outcomes of the Australia Awards. These outcomes are alumni’s use of knowledge and skills to contribute to development in their country, links and networks with Australians and Australian organisations, and perceptions of Australia.
Interviews conducted by ACER researchers have found that Australia Awards alumni are helping to improve food security in Mozambique through their contributions to food production, disaster risk reduction and emergency response activities.
Agriculture is the mainstay of the Mozambique economy, accounting for more than 80 per cent of employment; however, since 1992 successive natural disasters including drought, flooding and cyclones have all contributed to chronic food insecurity for the people of Mozambique.
Following completion of a Master of Plant Protection at the University of Queensland in 2004, alumnus Mr José Rafael Mangue was employed as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at World Vision Mozambique. Within six months, Mr Mangue was promoted to the position of Relief Team Leader and in this role successfully implemented World Vision’s response to the protracted drought in Tete Province.
In his current role as Save the Children’s Emergency Programme Operations Manager, Mr Mangue led the operational management of the 2016 to 2017 El Niño-induced drought response, providing food assistance to over 14 000 households. Ms Deizi Sitoi, Humanitarian Coordinator for Save the Children, described Mr Mangue as ‘key to helping Save the Children to help respond to that situation’.
Mr Mangue attributes his contribution in part to having high-quality teachers during his Masters degree at the University of Queensland.
‘The calibre of teachers and the professors you have … helps you in terms of broadening the way of thinking, of doing things, of understanding how things are,’ Mr Mangue said. ‘Some of the things you thought were complex are demystified; they make it easier for you. That helps a lot, and it’s unique.’
Mr Mangue believes the greater availability of learning resources and information at Australian institutions provided him an advantage in his career development when compared with those who have not had the opportunity to study abroad. Exposure to a greater source of information, Mr Mangue found, expanded his ways of thinking, interpreting and sourcing information.
For alumnus Dr Amaral Machaculeha Chibeba, completing a Master of Science (Environmental Management) at Charles Darwin University has enabled him to improve food production techniques. It has also taught him methods to overcome the common challenge of solutions not being implemented, such as using consultations and understanding the cultural aspects of a community to engage effectively with farmers.
Following his scholarship in Australia, Dr Chibeba was the project director of a cashew production and marketing project that sought to educate smallholders on how to identify powdery mildew disease and demonstrate the role of fungicide treatment in fixing it. Later in his career, as the Senior Agronomist and Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for the World Vision Farmer Income Support Project, Dr Chibeba actively coordinated the production and planting of over 100 000 coconut seedlings tolerant to Coconut Lethal Yellow Disease in endemic areas. This benefitted 1.7 million smallholders dependent on coconut tree production.
Dr Chibeba’s motivations for furthering his education – which has resulted in completing a doctoral degree – are underpinned by his aim of advancing the field of agronomy in Mozambique by working with local communities and producers to improve crop outputs, and, in turn, livelihoods.
‘When I was a child, I was always thinking of making as good a contribution to my country as possible,’ Dr Chibeba said. ‘So my idea was to go [to Australia] and learn and acquire knowledge, so I could help not just people that were linked with me, but to be able to help more and more people.’
ACER’s research has found that studying in Australia has provided Mozambican alumni with skills in English language, technical capacity and the cross-cultural competence necessary to implement change, undertake innovations, and deliver high-quality expertise to projects. Collectively, alumni have utilised their skills and knowledge from their scholarships to build the capacity and expertise of their organisations, and strengthen social and economic outcomes.
The Mozambique Case Study is the first report published from Year 3 of the Facility’s research. Further case studies will address women in the banking and finance sector in Vietnam, the public health sector in Cambodia, governance and leadership in Pakistan, and information technology and engineering (civil and electrical) in Papua New Guinea. ■
Find out more:
Visit the Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility website to read the full report and learn more about this world-first initiative.
For further information about the Australia Awards, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.