Stephanie Hanes, for the Pulitzer Center
Hi all - here's another one of your questions, and my attempt at a response... (hopefully not too long winded!)
What are the security concerns presently in Mozambique, and what measures have been taken to promote a safer environment, specifically around the park?
Security is an interesting issue. You know, it comes down to what you want to call "security." If you're talking about armies or guerilla fighters or that sort of thing, there really aren't all that many concerns. Mozambique is a stable democracy these days. The civil war that decimated the country ended in 1992, and nobody talks about going back to that awful time. The rebel group, Renamo, is now a legitimate opposition party.
But these days, across the world, I think we're going to have to start looking at the question of "security" in a broader sense. What does it mean when you have a region or a country that does not have food security? Or the other "securities" that we take for granted in the U.S. – basic things like laws and housing and an education system and a relatively functional police force?
I think that in the U.S. it's sometimes easy for us to hear these horrible stories from Africa – you know, the "Another Famine in Africa" news piece – and feel bad, but not really see how this affects us. But we're now seeing the dangers of having these unstable areas around the world. There has been a lot of news recently, for instance, about terrorist networks setting up in countries that are lacking these basic security structures – African countries included.
On a more basic level, if you believe in the general concept of human rights, people should simply not have to live without these sorts of securities.
Which brings us back to Gorongosa. What are they doing about security issues? If you're asking about soldiers with guns and stuff – not so much, because that's not really the issue these days.
But they are working with other NGOs (that's non-governmental organization – a regular acronym in my life!) to make sure that people have land rights. (Right now, the government doesn't officially recognize many villages – it would be as if you've been living in your house for years, but you don't actually have the security of having any official document saying you're the owner.) They're working to improve villagers' health and education. That sort of thing.