A fact-finding mission sent to Mozambique by World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recommends a package of disaster risk reduction priorities.
GENEVA, Switzerland, May 29, 2019 – Fact-finding mission makes recommendations for future resilience
The devastation caused by cyclones Idai and Kenneth which hit Mozambique within the space of a few weeks is a wake-up call about more high-impact tropical cyclones, coastal flooding and intense rainfall linked to climate change, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
A fact-finding mission sent to Mozambique by WMO recommends a package of disaster risk reduction priorities to strengthen the southern African nation’s early warnings systems and cut socio-economic damages from weather, climate, and water-related hazards like tropical cyclones, floods and drought.
“The two cyclones are a wake-up call that Mozambique needs to build resilience,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a message to an international pledging conference to secure support for reconstruction.
“Although the number of tropical cyclones globally is expected to reduce in the future, the number of most intense tropical cyclones (category 4 and 5), associated with more rainfall, will increase in a warming climate,” he said.
“Future sea level rise will exacerbate the impact of storm surge on coastal regions, raising concerns about flooding from the sea, particularly for low lying cities as Beira,” said Mr Taalas. This raises major concerns regarding Mozambique’s vulnerability to floods from both rivers and sea.
The report from the international team of meteorologists and hydrologists, headed by WMO’s Filipe Lúcio, will be presented to an international pledging conference for Mozambique scheduled for 1 June in the coastal city of Beira.
The fact-finding team said that investment of nearly US$ 27 million is needed for the meteorological and hydrological sector. This includes reconstruction, rehabilitation and modernization of infrastructure and equipment, land surveys for flood risk mapping and satellite rainfall estimation, improved database management systems, training on the latest forecasting products, improved standard operational procedures, and better communications tools.
Unprecedented back-to-back cyclones
Idai made landfall in the vicinity of Beira on 14 March at Category 4 strength, provoking one of the worst weather-related disasters to hit the southern hemisphere. Months’ worth of rain fell in a matter of hours.
The humanitarian consequences were huge. The cyclone and subsequent flooding caused the death of more than 600 people, injured an estimated 1600, affected more than 1.8 million and caused an estimated US$ 773 million in damages to buildings, infrastructure and agriculture.
“In times of floods, Mozambicans seek safety on roofs of buildings. But the ferocity of Idai’s winds blew the roofs away. The magnitude of the cyclone, the size of the storm surge and the extent of the flooding overwhelmed years of work by authorities in Sofala to increase community resilience to floods,” said Mr Lucio, who used to head Mozambique’s national meteorological service.
“It is a salutary warning about the future scale of the combined challenges from urbanization and climate change-related sea level rise and extreme weather. This will necessitate much greater emphasis on improved land use, urban and floodplain planning,” said Mr Lucio.
The fact-finding team’s visit coincided with tropical cyclone Kenneth, which made landfall on 25 April in Cabo Delgado province as the most intense tropical cyclone ever known to have hit the area.
The WMO mission focussed on Cyclone Idai, especially in terms of damages to hydro-meteorological equipment and institutional coordination and collaboration involving the meteorological, hydrological and disaster management services. However, its general conclusions are meant to inform plans and investments in strengthening the Early Warning System in a multi-hazard approach, and disaster risk management in the country, particularly during reconstruction to ensure building back better and overall strengthening of resilience.
With Idai and Kenneth, the tropical cyclone warnings issued through WMO’s operational network – via its Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre La Reunion (Météo-France) were of good quality. Flood warnings were challenging, an area where special focus needs to be put.
g said the report.
The communication of messages needs to be simplified and should include indication of potential impacts. Education and awareness raising should be permanent, the mission found.
Early warning can only be effective if complemented by effective disaster management practices. There is a need for:
The WMO team identified major weaknesses on preparedness, emergency coordination and response, including the following:
Mozambique is downstream of nine major river basins. It is prone to devastating impacts of floods but can also experience low-flows in rivers during drought due to water use upstream, exacerbating the impacts of droughts.
The biggest floods recorded recently were in 2000, when weeks of heavy rain exacerbated by tropical cyclone Eline caused the death of 700 people and affecting 2 million people.
With a coastline of 2700 km in the South West Indian Ocean, Mozambique is hit by a tropical storm or cyclone every two years on average – although Madagascar often acts as a buffer.
Climate change projections indicate a global decrease in numbers of tropical storms and cyclones. However it is projected that there may be increases in their maximum intensities and associated rainfall. Future sea level rise will exacerbate the impact of storm surge on coastal regions, assuming all other factors equal.
For the Province of Maputo, which has never suffered from direct hit of a tropical storm or tropical cyclone, and the Province of Gaza which was hit just once (cyclone Domoina in 1984) the likelihood of direct impact over these southern areas may increase over the next decades.
This warning coincides with the opening tomorrow (15 May) of the UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva.
GENEVA, Switzerland, May 14, 2019 – A major international conference on disaster risk reduction will take place under the shadow of Cyclone Idai – a disaster that underscored how little investment the international community makes in protecting vulnerable people from rising disaster risks.
Cyclone Idai hit central Mozambique on the night of 14 to 15 March. It killed hundreds of people and left an estimated 1.85 million people in need of help in Mozambique alone. In its aftermath, UN agencies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and many other groups launched massive relief operations.
The price of Red Cross and UN relief operations alone came out to about 315 million Swiss francs – nearly 1,000 times the 340,000 Swiss francs of international funding that was released by IFRC immediately before the storm to help evacuate and prepare at-risk communities.
This gap is lessened when longer-term risk reduction efforts are taken into account. For example, in recent years the IFRC network has invested about 7 million Swiss francs in disaster risk reduction in Mozambique. However, the discrepancy remains.
Elhadj As Sy, IFRC’s Secretary General, said:
“Cyclone Idai was a reminder that the way we respond to disasters is out of balance. Lack of investment to reduce and prevent disaster impacts results in more and more money needed to save lives and repair damages after the fact.
“Such a model doesn’t work for people who are at risk of storms and flooding. It’s also a model that doesn’t make financial sense, especially as we anticipate increased weather-related disasters as a result of climate change.”
This warning coincides with the opening tomorrow (15 May) of the UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva. The Global Platform is the preeminent global forum for governments, aid groups and other stakeholders to discuss and address disaster risks.
While there has been a shift in recent years towards more risk-focused investment, IFRC is concerned that not enough of this investment is reaching vulnerable communities, in areas that are at highest risk of storms, floods and other weather-related disasters, where it is most needed and where it could prove most effective. More resources should also be allocated to preparedness, prevention and adaptation.
“This means investing more in early warning systems that reach the last mile. It also means investing more in local aid groups that are best placed to help people prepare,” said Mr Sy.
At the beginning of May, six weeks after Cyclone Idai, more than 1 million people were evacuated from coastal areas in India’s Odisha state in advance of Cyclone Fani. This incredible achievement is evidence that preparedness efforts, backed by long-term investment and strong political will, can have profound impacts.
“The India experience shows that investment in local preparedness and early warning systems works. It saves lives and, in the case of Cyclone Fani, can prevent catastrophes. But unfortunately, this is still the exception to the rule. And that needs to change,” said Mr Sy.
In early March, heavy rains and flooding linked to the cyclone killed 60 people, displaced nearly 87,000 people and affected around 870,000 persons.
LILONGWE, Malawi, May 1, 2019 – United Nations agencies in collaboration with the Government of Malawi, national and international agencies have reached over 400,000 persons affected by the impact of Cyclone Idai. The flood affected populations have received immediate life-saving relief support including food, medicine, shelter, protection services and other non-food-items such as water, sanitation and hygiene supplies.
In early March, heavy rains and flooding linked to the cyclone killed 60 people, displaced nearly 87,000 people and affected around 870,000 persons. The Government of Malawi declared a State of Disaster on 8th March and subsequently launched a Flood Response Plan and Appeal on 28th March to support life-saving humanitarian interventions in 15 affected districts.
The flood response plan appeal has received US$ 25.6 million funding contributions and pledges out of a total requirement of US$ 45.2 million. Based on lessons learnt from the 2015 flood response, early recovery efforts have been integrated in the response plan to reduce further risks and mitigate the impact of future shocks.
UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, said the UN and partners triggered their support to the response almost immediately after the floods had hit, including, using prepositioned relief supplies. Additional support to the Government of Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) includes facilitating coordination and information management to enhance the response operations. An Emergency Operations Centre is established in the Ministry of Homeland Security to facilitate coordination of field operations.
“We assisted the government to rapidly assess the immediate needs to inform the humanitarian response,” said Torres. “Beyond addressing the immediate needs, we are also supporting the Government to assess post-disaster recovery needs that will inform early to long term recovery interventions in the affected areas.”
A Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) has been undertaken by the Malawi Government, UN, World Bank and European Union to assess damages, losses and priority recovery needs and costs. The data and information collected will inform the Government’s flood recovery plan.
“In tandem with the emergency response, we are also working with all sectors to support the affected communities’ gradual transition to recovery. This includes the UN’s support to DoDMA’s decision to provide a return home package to displaced populations who have expressed interest to return to their homes. This move aligns well with the country’s national resilience building,” said Torres.
Within the framework of One UN, several UN offices, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Women, World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office (UNRCO) and World Health Organisation (WHO), are supporting the response in various ways that reflect their respective mandates and specialized expertise.
Below are more details on UN support to the response:
The Humanitarian Country Team, comprising humanitarian and development actors, continues to monitor the situation, in addition to supporting the Government of Malawi to address the current emergency through coherent planning for short-term interventions that meet basic needs, and medium -and long- term programming that increases the coping capabilities of communities and households. These joint efforts reaffirm the shared commitment by the UN to strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus to achieve collective outcomes, improve community resilience, and ensure that no one is left behind.
More than 305,000 children in Mozambique are losing out on lessons at school since the devastating floods caused by Cyclone Idai, which struck southeast Africa just over a month ago.
NEW YORK, United States of America, April 19, 2019 – The latest assessment by UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, indicates that around 3,400 classrooms have either been destroyed or damaged, with 2,713 out of action in the Sofala area alone.
In some of the areas affected, schools will need extensive repair and rehabilitation after being converted into makeshift emergency shelters for children and families displaced by the huge storm, which barreled inland off the coast of Mozambique on 14 April, also causing damage and flooding across large areas of Zimbabwe and Malawi.
UNICEF is urging authorities to reconstruct schools in a more robust way, so they can withstand natural disasters in the future, and they are urging humanitarian partners involved in the mammoth recovery effort, to “continue working together to implement solutions” – such as establishing temporary learning centres – to get children back in school as quickly as possible.
“Any prolonged interruption in access to learning could have devastating consequences for children over both the short and long term”, said the agency. “Education is essential for helping children return to a sense of normalcy following a traumatic event, like a major cyclone, and for their long-term development and prospects.”
UNICEF is also concerned that the disruption will compound what were already low rates of school enrolment and “learning achievement” in Mozambique. iwith less than 20 per cent of secondary-school aged children currently enrolled.
Dropout rates could increase if families whose property or livelihoods have been negatively affected by the cyclone are forced to send their children to work to make ends meet.
Teachers have also suffered because of the cyclone, the agency notes, proposing short-term financial support for educators affected by the disaster to help them re-build their lives.
The needs in Mozambique remain massive, with 1 million children in need of assistance. UNICEF has launched an appeal for US$122 million to support its humanitarian response for children and families affected by the storm and its aftermath, in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi over the next nine months.
In immediate response to the storm, more than 14 countries, including five from Africa, deployed more than 100 assets to support the aid effort, said UN humanitarian coordination office, OCHA, including $14 million released from the Central Emergency Response Fund by humanitarian affairs chief, Mark Lowcock.
Food has been distributed from the first day of the disaster response, and more than one million people have been reached so far. More than 800,000 have been vaccinated against cholera, and more than 117,000 have received emergency shelter.