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Despite severe structural political and economic constraints, people in the District of Buzi in central Mozambique have seen small but important improvements in their socio-economic conditions between 2008 and 2011. In addition to their own hard work, the proximity to the city of Beira is a major reason for the advances made. Rather than counting on economic growth to ‘trickle down’, the government should remove constraints related to agriculture and income and facilitate rural-urban interaction.