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Mozambique's long post-conflict transition

Nicholas van Praag's picture
  War...           

The most visible sign of Mozambique’s long history of conflict is the war memorial opposite Maputo’s main railway station.  It is designed in the fascist-deco style beloved of European dictators in the 1930s.  Built in 1936, it was a belated commemoration to the Portuguese and Mozambican soldiers who died in the Great War—in clashes with forces from what was then German East Africa.

There is no such reminder of the hundreds of thousands who died in the more recent wars of liberation, which lasted from 1961 to 1974, or the 14 years of civil war that followed.  After so much suffering most people want to forget these years rather than erect public monuments to their memory.

Unlike the on-again off-again nature of so many conflicts today, the peace agreement reached in 1992 by the two main groups, FRELIMO and RENAMO, marked the end of hostilities.  ‘It had become a war of the protagonists, not of the people’, says Dr.  Americo Jose Ubisse, Secretary General of the Mozambican Red Cross.  When the guns fell silent, one million people had died and some 5 million were displaced.

During the intervening years Mozambique has made strides in turning around its fortunes, consistently posting growth rates of 8 percent in recent years—closer to Asian levels than to other African countries. 

This performance has made Mozambique a kind of post-conflict poster child.  So when I visited Maputo last month, the vibrant but run-down capital, I wanted to find out how Mozambique had seized these impressive results from the jaws of state failure and whether all is as rosy as the growth rate suggests.

It’s complicated

Natalia Cieslik's picture

I have just returned from Jerusalem. It was my first visit to this part of the Middle East, and now I see why people always say that you have to go there to get an idea of what it is really like. It is complicated.

     Interviewing a displaced family in Gaza for the WDR 'Witness' project.

It helped to be traveling with Nigel Roberts, Yezid Sayigh, and Rex Brynen. They combine decades of field experience and academic research, with intimate knowledge of every detail and latest twist in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After spending two weeks with them I am convinced, between the three of them they likely know the shoe size of every actor in the region.
 
We went to Tel Aviv, Gaza, Jerusalem, Nablus, Ramallah, and Jerusalem again for our consultations on the upcoming World Development Report. We met dozens of people, individually and in groups: journalists, political scientists, human rights activists, doctors, businessmen, students, civil servants, among others. There were hawks and doves, moderates, people who had given up any hope for peace and others who refuse to let frustration win over their beliefs that a solution and peaceful coexistence are possible.

World Development Report 2011—Not a Cookbook

Nigel Roberts's picture

Many leaders and practitioners familiar with the challenges of delivering in fragile and conflict-affected states are urging us to come up with practical suggestions for them. We in the WDR Team feel we have to be careful not try and develop some set of 'conflict recipes', though: this would mean falling into the trap that characterizes a lot of institutional development work by external parties (i.e. that it is based on prescriptive models and is insufficiently adapted to real-life situations of fragility and conflict). Rather than a cookbook, then, we are shooting for an approach that shares insights and experiences from all types of situations, and points to those that have worked well and could prove useful elsewhere.

For a summary of the purpose and content of the upcoming World Development Report 2011, please take a look at my video:

WDR 2011 - Not a Cookbook from World Bank on Vimeo.