Lydia Polgreen, The New York Times
As Coal Boosts Mozambique, the Rural Poor Are Left BehindNovember 14, 2012 By Wilson Center Staff
The original version of this article, by Lydia Polgreen, appeared on The New York Times.
When Augusto Conselho Chachoka and his neighbors heard that the world’s biggest coal mine was to be built on their land, a tantalizing new future floated before them. Instead of scraping by as subsistence farmers, they would earn wages as miners, they thought. The mining company would build them sturdy new houses, it seemed. Finally, a slice of the wealth that has propelled Mozambique from its war-addled past to its newfound status as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies would be theirs.
Instead, they ended up being moved 25 miles away from the mine, living in crumbling, leaky houses, farming barren plots of land, far from any kind of jobs that the mine might create and farther than ever from Mozambique’s growth miracle.
“Development is coming, but the development is going to certain areas and certain people,” Mr. Chachoka said, taking a break from trying to coax enough food from his scraggly field to feed his six children.
Mozambique is one of the poorest nations in the world, broken by a brutal colonial legacy, a 16-year civil war and failed experiments with Marxist economic policy. But it is also one of the so-called African Lions: countries that are growing at well above six percent annually, even amid the global downturn.
Video Credit: ”The Burdens of Progress,” courtesy of Megan Izen/The New York Times.