Juntos Mozambique

Leveraging the potential of citizen voices in addressing grassroot issues

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Ushahidi infused resilience into the implementation of Juntos activities in Mozambique by enabling a seamless digital engagement using the channels available on the Ushahidi Platform.

The Juntos Mozambique project was launched as a team effort to tackle the community's needs during the COVID-19 lockdown. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Mozambique had to enforce strict lockdown measures. This meant that civil society groups couldn't interact with the community like they used to.

To bridge this gap, the project leveraged the Ushahidi Platform. This allowed people to share their concerns and problems without needing to meet face-to-face. This was crucial because without these interactions, it was like the community was left in the dark.

As time went on, even after the worst of the pandemic had passed, it became clear that this platform was still needed. It kept the conversation going between the community and those making decisions that affect them.

But the project didn't stop there. It expanded to cover other important issues in Mozambique. Funding for the project comes from both Juntos Mozambique and the La Caixa Foundation, with support from partners like the Centro de Apoio a Informação e Comunicação Comunitária (CAICC), which helps community-level communication efforts.

Statistics of the deployment reachHighlights of the numbers of child marriages and unsafe abortions in Mozambique

How the Ushahidi Platform is being utilized

Ushahidi utilizes technology to empower marginalized communities, enabling them to voice their concerns while facilitating better responses from relevant organizations. Initially, Juntos implemented the Ushahidi platform to gather firsthand accounts of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform also facilitated a continuous feedback mechanism regarding various aspects of COVID-19, such as prevention, care, treatment, mitigation, and their effects on the communities they serve.

Over time, the scope of the project has expanded in response to emerging needs. The platform now addresses a wider range of issues, including concerns related to people with disabilities, abortion, HIV/AIDS and STIs, public transportation, gender-based violence, and initiation rites. Through Ushahidi, the community can voice their experiences, and responsive actions can be taken accordingly.Stats from the deployment

Some of the issues surfaced through this deployment include:

Early Marriages

According to UNICEF, Mozambique boasts one of the highest rates of child marriage globally, affecting nearly half of its girls, translating to almost one in every two girls. This staggering statistic ranks Mozambique as having the second-highest rate in the eastern and southern African sub-region. Alarmingly, 48% of women aged 20–24 in Mozambique were married or in a union before reaching 18 years old, with an additional 14% married off before turning 15.

The repercussions of child marriage are grave for young girls, subjecting them to increased instances of domestic violence, marital abuse (including physical, sexual, or psychological abuse), and abandonment. Consequently, ending violence against children and combatting child marriage stand as top priorities for both the government and civil society organizations in Mozambique.

A critical need exists to raise awareness within communities regarding the prevalence of abuse and violence, alongside empowering community members, families, and children to speak out against and address such violations. Strengthening child protection systems at all levels, from local communities to national institutions, is essential for ensuring an effective response to this pervasive issue.

In addressing this urgent challenge, Juntos is harnessing the Ushahidi platform to solicit community feedback and promote awareness surrounding child marriage. Through this initiative, they aim to mobilize communities and foster dialogue on this pressing issue, using data to drive impactful change.

Unsafe Termination of Pregnancies

In 2014, Mozambique embarked on a mission to reduce maternal mortality by liberalizing its abortion laws, thereby significantly expanding women's access to safe abortion services. Today, women in Mozambique possess the right to request a legal abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, with provisions for later terminations in cases of rape, incest, or fetal anomaly.

Despite these legal advancements, the shadow of unsafe abortion still looms large in Mozambique, persisting as a leading cause of maternal mortality. Years of restrictive abortion laws forced many women into clandestine and hazardous procedures, perpetuating the prevalence of unsafe abortions. A major contributing factor to this ongoing challenge has been a lack of awareness surrounding reproductive rights and safe abortion practices.

To address this issue, the Ushahidi platform serves as a vital tool for both listening to community concerns and disseminating crucial information. Community members utilize the platform as a hub for inquiries and discussions regarding abortion and reproductive health. As reported by the Club of Mozambique newspaper, there has been a noteworthy 10% reduction in the country's abortion rate, indicating progress in combatting unsafe abortion practices.

Statistics on abortion in MozambiqueInquiries on abortion laws and guidelines

Family Planning

Since 2012, there has been a remarkable increase in the adoption of family planning methods in Mozambique, nearly doubling in usage. Specifically, the utilization of modern contraceptives among women has surged from 16% to 32%. Concurrently, Mozambique has prioritized the implementation of electronic stock management information systems in 30% of public health facilities to streamline the distribution of family planning products.

However, despite these advancements, it became evident through this initiative that some community members still harbored inquiries regarding safe family planning practices. The introduction of the platform provided a safe space for individuals to seek answers to questions that might otherwise be considered taboo or difficult to ask openly. This facilitated open dialogue and ensured that essential information regarding family planning was readily accessible to all.

Initiation Rites

The beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of many young people in Mozambique regarding health, nutrition, gender roles, and HIV are deeply rooted in local cultures and traditions. These cultural norms are reinforced by community institutions, religious leaders, and influential figures like "madrinhas" (godmothers) and "matronas" (traditional birth attendants) who play significant roles in girls’ initiation rites. With low literacy rates, particularly among females, access to information is primarily through oral communication, underscoring the importance of community-based communication methods, such as radio broadcasts in local languages and face-to-face interactions.

Recognizing the impact of cultural practices on adolescent health, the Forum of Women’s Organizations of Niassa (FOFeN), a Mozambican NGO, recently proposed reforms to initiation rites aimed at curbing early marriages and pregnancies in the province. The proposal recommends establishing an initiation window with age limits of 10 years for boys and 15 years for girls. It advocates for prioritizing education over marriage for children and minors and suggests incorporating educational content, including information on children's rights and the consequences of early pregnancy and marriage, into initiation ceremony songs. This proposal has sparked heated debates and diverse opinions among Mozambicans.

To foster awareness and facilitate dialogue on this contentious issue, the Ushahidi platform serves as a vital tool, providing a two-way communication channel for community members to engage and express their perspectives.


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Published Evidence