By Kunal Sen, Director of United Nations University – World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER)
The next decade is a make-or-break for the world’s most vulnerable countries. To tackle the unprecedented confluence of COVID-19, climate, and economic crises, new solutions are desperately needed. Scientific research is one key for finding long-lasting solutions.
Least developed countries (LDCs) are low-income countries that face severe structural impediments to sustainable development. These countries are highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks and have low levels of human assets. Most LDCs suffer simultaneously from multiple development challenges, ranging from socioeconomic and environmental ones, to those related to security and governance. This makes settling on a sustainable development path a particularly daunting task – one that is aggravated by the often dire lack of data and evidence on which a country could effectively plan its policies, and weak financial resources to produce new knowledge.
Mozambique – a country rich in both natural resources and problems
The above is the case for Mozambique — a country rich in natural resources yet with one of the highest poverty rates and lowest ratings in educational attainment. A country that is prone to climate change-induced extreme weather events, with an ongoing natural resources-related armed conflict, and a debt crisis. Data and evidence are scarce, even for Mozambique’s priority sectors, and most of it is produced within one-off donor-driven projects, leading to a lack of comparable data over time.
However, through a collaborative research programme implemented in 2015, gathering two Mozambican institutions — the Ministry of Economics and Finance, and the University Eduardo Mondlane — and UNU-WIDER and the University of Copenhagen, the Mozambique government has been able to gain access to new data, analyse policy-relevant evidence and adopt policies that benefit the poorest and most vulnerable groups. One example of this partnership is the work done on poverty analysis, including the production of Mozambique’s National Poverty Assessments every five years. Thanks to our long-term collaboration, the poverty team at the ministry is now knowledgeable in this area, can explain and defend the methodology to other ministers and apply new data to ensure continuity.Continue reading