Building the Foundation for Community Development of Mozambique


The history of Mozambique is fraught with colonialism, internal conflict and famine. A Portuguese colony for almost 500 years, Mozambique achieved its independence in 1975 after a five-year, hard-fought war. That struggle was followed by 15 years of foreign-influenced war. A UN-brokered settlement brought peace in 1992, but the consequences of the wars were devastating.

Almost a million Mozambicans died during the fighting and from famine caused by a severe drought. Landmines littered the landscape. The country's children were deeply affected. Healthcare delivery was minimal, creating a fertile environment for the spread of HIV/AIDS. The nation's economy and infrastructure were ruined. Today, tremendous poverty persists, but Mozambicans are pulling their country back together.

Synergos works with partners in Mozambique and other parts of Southern Africa to strengthen the capacity of local organizations and individual philanthropists to reduce poverty, increase equity and advance social justice. We also help build partnerships and collaboration among civil society, business, government, international agencies and philanthropists active in the region. (See overview of our current work in Southern Africa and in Mozambique.)

A key partner in this work is the Foundation for Community Development (FDC -- Fundação para o Desenvolvimento da Communidade), whose creation and accomplishments are described below.

FDC: Ray of Hope for Mozambique's Future

One of the rays of hope in Mozambique emerged thanks to the vision of Graça Machel, widow of Mozambique's first president, and other Mozambican leaders. She decided to create a private grantmaking foundation that would enable Mozambicans to help themselves. Synergos worked with her to make the dream a reality.

Synergos Provides Support to Launch the Dream

In the late 1970s, President Samora Machel invited David Rockefeller to Mozambique to discuss the government's opening to relations with the West. With Rockefeller was his daughter Peggy Dulany, who became friends with the President and his wife Graça Machel. When President Machel died in a plane crash in 1986, Dulany, who spoke Portuguese, flew to the funeral in the capital city of Maputo to be with her friend.

In 1990, Mrs. Machel was Mozambique's Minister of Education. When she left that post, the "mother of the country" formed an indigenous nongovernmental organization (NGO) -- the Association for Community Development (ADC). At that time, the only NGOs in the country were foreign. She contacted Dulany, who had founded Synergos in 1986, to talk over the idea.

Synergos had recently assisted the Esquel Group in Ecuador transform from an NGO into a foundation.

After hearing the story of Esquel, Mrs. Machel believed that the time was ripe for such a foundation in Mozambique. A large percentage of the nation's budget came from foreign aid, but all the money flowed directly to the government or international NGOs. The goal was to create a local, indigenous grantmaking and programming entity that would mobilize local resources, attract foreign money, and serve as an intermediary between donors and communities in need.

Synergos introduced Machel to American philanthropists and provided assistance in developing proposals for initial support. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation funded the organization's feasibility study and startup. Other funding came from the government through a debt forgiveness program. And ADC's founding members raised money inside Mozambique.

"[A]ll of us contributed money to what is now the endowment," says Graça Machel. "We asked friends, people we knew, for money, and we contacted some businesses. We wanted to send a clear message that Africans -- Mozambicans -- want to be in charge and in control, because, no matter how small the sums of money were, it was coming from Mozambican hands."

Making the Dream a Reality

In 1994, ADC became the Foundation for Community Development, Mozambique's first endowed grantmaking foundation. "It is one thing to help an individual -- another to build an institution that helps thousands," says Mrs. Machel. "The creation of the Foundation for Community Development in Mozambique was a pivotal intervention in our country."

FDC is the only social and economic development foundation in Mozambique, funding and operating programs in nine of Mozambique's ten provinces. It develops and builds the capacity of NGOs and community-based organizations so they can be instruments of poverty-eradication and social justice. In addition, FDC mobilizes resources by building bridges between individuals, donors and the nonprofit, public and private sectors. The organization now has 30 international donors, whose funding has allowed FDC to build a strong, professional staff and develop effective, high-impact programs. It has created service delivery systems in education, health and disaster recovery, some of which the government is replicating.

In the past eight years, FDC has mobilized more than $11 million, which has helped fund more than 100 social development initiatives. These programs have directly benefited 35,000 Mozambicans, indirectly benefiting many more. Each year, FDC funnels more than $2 million in grants to local communities.

Synergos' Partnership with the Mozambican Foundation

With funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Synergos has provided FDC with a full range of capacity building technical assistance -- strategic planning, board development, grants management, financial operations, staff development, evaluation and outreach through one-on-one interactions, as well as workshops. In turn, Synergos has learned from the FDC's experiences, using this knowledge to help other foundations around the world.

With support from Synergos, FDC has enhanced its fundraising capability; established financial systems; and created a broad, effective outreach program to donors and other stakeholders.

In an example of how Synergos has continued to support FDC in its efforts to strengthen its institutional capacities, Synergos Senior Fellows Sandra Libunao (the Philippines), Antonio Carlos Martinelli (Brazil), and Len le Roux (Namibia) were part of a team that assisted FDC to develop its five-year strategic plan. The process included a highly participatory evaluation, involving FDC's Mozambican stakeholders, which made "a unique contribution to FDC's experience," according to Libunao.

The evaluation provided information on where the organization is efficient and effective and where it needs strengthening. It highlighted key successes and identified factors that need to be improved to produce lasting change. It also gave FDC a better sense of the perspectives of donors, partners and stakeholders -- knowledge that will help the organization refine its programs and services.

Historic Milestones:
Mozambique & FDC


Mozambique achieves independence from Portugal


Foreign-influenced warfare begins


Talks begin to end warfare.
Graça Machel and other visionary Mozambicans found the Association for Community Development (ADC)


Peace agreement signed


ADC becomes the Foundation for Community Development (FDC) -- Mozambique’s first grantmaking foundation


FDC programs help build schools and strengthen local NGOs


FDC & Synergos organize major conference on business involvement in social development


FDC's programs reach 9 of Mozambique’s 10 provinces


Synergos strengthens FDC staff skills through internship program


USAID chooses FDC to implement major HIV/AIDS prevention program


FDC's annual grantmaking level reaches two million dollars

Focusing on Preventing and Coping with the Effects of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

FDC is in the forefront of HIV/AIDS education, prevention and healthcare in Mozambique.

It was selected by the USAID to implement a three-year, $11.5 million project to prevent and combat HIV/AIDS. The project -- Development Corridor of Hope -- marks the first time that Mozambican local and national HIV/AIDS organizations are working together in a coordinated, comprehensive manner on projects ranging from information dissemination and education to healthcare delivery.

The grant "...will enable FDC to create internal capacity to deal with the problem of HIV/AIDS in a more profound way," says former FDC Executive Director Carlos Fumo. "It is the first time that USAID funding has gone to a Mozambican national NGO, which means both trust and a tremendous shift that is highly commendable. This kind of approach enables Mozambicans to solve their own problems."

Development Corridor of Hope targets individuals and communities along the Maputo Development Corridor -- a critical road and rail link between Mozambique and South Africa. It distributes HIV/AIDS prevention materials, encouraging safe sexual practices. It also improves healthcare for those with the disease and provides education that helps reduce the discrimination they face in their local communities.

Women and Children Are Bearing the Brunt of HIV/AIDS in Mozambican Society

On the outskirts of Maputo, women are caring for 400 orphaned and vulnerable children -- children who are either HIV/AIDS-infected, have lost at least one parent to the disease, or have parent(s) who are dying. Reencontro, a community-based initiative of 15 community activists, provides a wide range of services to the children -- who range in age from infancy to 18. Services include weekly food rations, educational materials, counseling on living with HIV/AIDS, AIDS prevention, and home-based care for HIV/AIDS-infected infants and parents.

The network has been primarily self-sufficient. Each member contributes $50 per month whenever she can. FDC works with Reecontro on programming and fundraising goals. Increased funding will permit expansion of services.

School Free of HIV (Êsh! -- Escola Sem HIV) assists students and teachers in planning and implementing HIV prevention programs in 45 primary and secondary schools in Maputo City and province.

FDC assists each school to develop its own strategy and activities aimed at increasing knowledge and access to information about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted illness. The program was started in 2000 and in 2001 expanded to ten secondary schools in the northern province of Nampula, which has few prevention programs due to a low HIV-infection rate.

FDC created Lessening the Impact of HIV/AIDS for Women and Children to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS on families in southern Mozambique. The rapid spread of the disease in the area is twice that of anywhere else in the country. Without such a program, the organization feared that the number of area AIDS orphans -- 33,034 in 2000 -- could multiply to 210,000 by 2010.

A Partner in Programs that Make a Difference: Healthcare Delivery

Since its inception, FDC has worked to improve healthcare delivery in Mozambique, especially in rural areas beyond Maputo. Through a unique partnership with VillageReach, a US-based nonprofit organization, great progress is being made in the provision of children's vaccinations.

It is estimated that Mozambique's national vaccination rates are just 61 percent for DPT-3 (Diptheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) and only 56 percent for polio. The rates for rural Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces, some 900 miles north of the capital, are even lower, with DPT3 rates in Cabo Delgado estimated at 29 percent.

Local health facilities in this area were frequently short of critical vaccines, medicines and supplies. To make matters worse, even when they did have vaccines, the clinics' kerosene-powered refrigerators were typically either broken or out of fuel. Lack of refrigeration meant that, too often, vaccines that could save lives were instead spoiled.

Between 45 and 55 percent of the population live more than two hours from the nearest clinic. Often they would make the walk only to get poor quality or no service. FDC was interested in adapting southern Mozambican healthcare systems to function in the north. Its goal was to ensure that people who arrived at the clinics got service. This, in turn, would increase confidence in healthcare delivery.

Blaise Judja-Sato, VillageReach founder and President, actively worked to raise funds for FDC in the United States in 1999. A telecommunications executive, he traveled to Mozambique in 2000, delivering resources he had mobilized for flood victims. When he returned, he decided to dedicate his future to improving life in remote communities. "The first person I called was Peggy Dulany," says Judja-Sato. "She provided guidance to smooth my transition; and since then, she and Synergos staff have provided me with valuable support and introduced me to potential funding sources and experts."

In 2002, FDC and VillageReach signed a five-year agreement with the Mozambican Ministry of Health for the Northern Mozambique Project, which provides logistical healthcare services in Cabo Delgado province.

The project has developed a cold chain, installing clean-burning, liquid petroleum gas (LPG)-powered refrigerators in 30 clinics. It has also installed LPG lamps, sterilization facilities, and needle-disposal equipment. Vaccine spoilage has been reduced; injections are safer. Clinics in which babies were too often delivered in the dark, now offer safer deliveries just because of the availability of illumination. One hundred health workers and local staff have been trained to properly operate and maintain the new equipment. In some districts served by the project, voluntary immunizations increased by 40 percent in the first six months.

A streamlined distribution system has been set up for rapid delivery of critical vaccines, medicines and medical supplies. It has its own fleet, which makes regular deliveries to remote facilities, working wth the government to reach 42 clinics serving more than 900,000 people.

In order to secure the availability of LPG being used in the clinics, FDC and VillageReach established VidaGas, a local distribution company. FDC owns 52 percent of the company. VidaGas provides the Ministry of Health, small businesses, and homes with a reliable supply of nontoxic fuel. This energy alternative not only improves overall health service delivery, but also reduces the negative impact of current fuel sources -- wood, charcoal and dung. Profits from the sale of LPG should gradually cover the costs of project operations and help sustain local VillageReach operations.

Describing FDC, Judja-Sato says, "The organization is a strong, well established partner with known capacity. The long-term sustainability of the model is critical. We wouldn't have been able to do this without FDC."

FDC provides funding and manages relationships with the government. It also educates local communities about the project and enlists community leaders' support -- increasing trust in the health system and demand for higher quality services. Ultimately, FDC will manage the program. Expansion is planned to areas in Cabo Delgado and neighboring Nampula province.

"In FDC's healthcare delivery area, in its other program areas, and in its institutional development, Synergos continues to be a committed, supportive partner to the foundation" says Schearer. "We share the organization's core values and work to strengthen its capacity and help it achieve its goals."