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A unique rehabilitation program in Tinonganine Prison

At Tinonganine Open Prison, inmates are learning learn job skills that will help them provide for their families and reintegrate into society when they’re released, thereby reducing the risk of reoffending.

In Mozambique, jobs are scarce and 70 per cent of the population relies on agriculture for their food and income. According to the Overseas Development Institute, young men often turn to crime, drink, or drugs when they can’t find a way to earn money.

An agriculture project is under way that is giving offenders the opportunity to learn valuable skills, contribute to food security and nutritional diversity in the prison, and build bridges with the community.

Growing their own food

This project engages prisoners who have completed at least a third of their sentence and demonstrated good behaviour. Our local partner, United Purpose, provides seeds, fertiliser, and training in potato production.

Potatoes are not usually available in prisons due to the high cost. Inmates are used to eating two meals a day, and often have the same meal of rice and beans throughout the week.

In the first year, prisoners produced almost one tonne of potatoes. Half of these were eaten in Tinonganine Open Prison, and the rest were shared with other prisons in the province.

“This is the first time we have had the opportunity to produce potatoes,” said one potato-grower. “For me it is very good because potatoes are tastier than flour or rice, but also because they sell well. I can get out of here and grow it on my own.”

A pathway for reintegration

By learning how to farm potatoes, prisoners learn valuable work skills they can use when they leave. This improves their ability to provide for their families and reduces their risk of falling back into crime.

“Sometimes it is difficult to make the community understand that although they are inmates they are also people who need support to be reintegrated into society and that they are willing to do it in a peaceful way,” said Atanásio, Prison Director.

One ex-inmate has already used the skills he learned to find new work with a private company.

“He is working there as a potato expert after he informed the company owner that he had gained experience here in the centre,” said Atanásio. “These centres are very important for the reintegration of prisoners into society.”

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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Sometimes it is difficult to make the community understand that although they are inmates they are also people who need support to be reintegrated into society and that they are willing to do it in a peaceful way.

This project was supported by:

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