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Uganda: Ministry of Health – Press Release – Confirmation of an Imported Ebola Viruse Disease case in Kasese District (29.08.2019)

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Joint Press Release – Weekly Travel Advisory on Ebola Viruse Disease in Uganda (08.08.2019)

Uganda: Joint Press Release – Clarification on the movement of an Ebola Virus Disease case who recently died in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – (20.07.2019)

Joint Press Release: Update on DRC trader who visited Uganda, later died of Ebola in DRC (17.07.2019)

Joint Press Release: Joint Advisory on Ebola Virus Disease in Uganda (05.07.2019)

Mozambique cyclones are “wake-up call,” says World Meteorological Organization (WMO) – (29.05.2019)

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.

Key findings

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:

  • Effective floodplain management practices, including land use, urban planning;
  • Updated building codes to withstand intense tropical cyclone winds;
  • Multi-purpose infrastructure to serve as shelters in cases of tropical cyclones and accommodation during floods;
  • Consideration of structural measures for protection and management, where appropriate

The WMO team identified major weaknesses on preparedness, emergency coordination and response, including the following:

  • Absence of a communication system that can be used in the case of failure of normal communication means for warning and emergency operations;
  • Ineffective land use planning and enforcement for efficient floodplain management;
  • Absence of an evacuation plan for cities such as Beira, Búzi and Dondo;
  • Building codes not suitable to events of the magnitude of cyclone IDAI.
  • Limited capacities of key central and local government authorities to respond to emergencies;
  • Absence of an integrated approach for multi-hazard early warning systems;

Vulnerability

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.

Cyclone Idai casts a shadow over global disaster Conference (14.05.2019)

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.

Malawi: UN responds to humanitarian needs, gradual shift to recovery and strengthening resilience (01.05.2019)

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:

  • Over 91,000 households (over 410,000 people) provided with food or cash in nine districts. The food basket provided to 75 per cent of the people reached, comprises of a 50kg bag of maize, 10kgs of pulses and 2 litres of vegetable oil, while cash transfers of MK 18,000, equivalent to the value of the food basket, is provided to 25 per cent of the population reached.
  • As of 11 April, with UN support, the number of people reached with integrated health services in flood affected districts is 82,394. Other assitance includes screening, immunisation, reproductive health services and treatment of people in internally displacement sites through mobile.
  • Across the country, a total of 51,081 children (23,009 boys 28,072 girls) have been screened for malnutrition and 1,811 children (942 boys and 869 girls) with Severe Acute Malnutrition were admitted and treated through the Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition programme. Of these, 121 children were admitted from the various camps. Mass screening and active case findings are on-going focussing on eight prioritised floods affected distrcts ( Balaka, Chikwawa, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Nsanje, Phalombe, and Zomba).
  • 10,000 dignity kits have been distributed targeting vulnerable pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and adolescent girls in displacement camps in the affected districts. The kit contains soaps, underwear, sanitary pads, sanitary cloth, wrapping cloth, tooth paste, shavers, plastic bucket and plastic cups among others. Additional 4,200 dignity kits have also been procured and will be distributed in the coming days.
  • Reproductive Health (RH) kits to prevent maternal and neonatal deaths have been distributed to nine flood affected districts. The RH kits include individual clean delivery kits, equipment and medicines for assisted delivery and management of unsafe abortion among others.
  • Messages on prevention and reporting of sexual and gender based violence are being dissmeinated through community and national radios including theatre.
  • A total of 54,209 people in 17 sites reached with safe water as per agreed standards through provision of water containers, treatment chemicals, and water trucking.
  • A total of 51,691 people in 19 sites reached with services as per agreed standards through the installation of emergency latrines and bath shelters separate for men and women. Also, hygiene messages have reached more than 45,000 people.
  • About 47,000 displaced people reached with shelter and non-food items in four districts.
  • About 180,000 people are planned to be targeted with early recovery interventions in six districts, with interventions including removal of debris and solid waste management, support for reconstruction of homes, provision of agricultural kits including farm implements to enable winter cropping, distribution of small livestock to increase the asset base of farmers and cash-based interventions to enhance the provision of basic household needs of the affected population.
  • A total of 28,812 learners (15,149 girls, 13,663 boys) in 143 schools in six districts provided with education supplies, temporary learning spaces and teachers, school meals and sanitation facilities. In addition, 2,731 Early Childhood Development (ECD) children (1458 girls, 1273 boys) supported with ECD kits and tent classrooms in 19 camps in five districts.
  • In line with the ‘Leave No One Behind’ principle, the Age, Gender and Diversity Mainstreaming (AGDM) tool was used to engender the humanitarian response through the clusters to ensure that life-saving support indeed reached the most disadvantaged and the furthest behind first.

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 3,400 classrooms damaged or destroyed by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, says UN Children’s Fund (19.04.2019)

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.

World Food Programme reaches 1 million flood-affected people in Mozambique (16.04.2019)

World Food Programme (WFP) intends to assist a total of 1.7 million people requiring urgent food and nutrition support in the four most affected provinces (Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia).

BEIRA, Mozambique, April 16, 2019 –  One month on since Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique on March 14, the United Nations World Food Programme has reached one million people with food assistance and continues to expand its emergency response while launching recovery and reconstruction interventions.

‘’In the immediate aftermath of the cyclone, people were so very desperate.’’ said Lola Castro, WFP’s Regional Director for Southern Africa. ‘’Thanks to the hard work and resourcefulness of the many involved, the speed and scale of the response has transformed that desperation into hope.’’

Working in close coordination with the government and the INGC, the national disaster management agency, WFP intends to assist a total of 1.7 million people requiring urgent food and nutrition support in the four most affected provinces (Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia).

  • The successful scale-up to date has been made possible by the generosity of donors, including those who provide unearmarked, flexible funding. However, WFP still requires US$130 million to be able to fully implement its response through June.
  • People affected by the flood and cyclone are receiving up to 30-day rations of rice and maize meal, pulses, fortified blended food and vegetable oil. Where local markets are functioning, WFP distributions of food will increasingly give way to cash-based transfers (CBTs). Some 145,000 people are to receive support this way in April.
  • WFP has deployed nutritionists to the four priority provinces, begun moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) treatment at displacement centres and devised a six-month plan to treat at least 100,000 children and women.
  • An ongoing cholera outbreak, that has so far infected more than 5,000 people, threatens to worsen malnutrition. WFP is supporting three cholera treatment centers in Beira with food assistance.
  • As lead of the global logistics cluster, WFP deployed to Mozambique three MI-8 transport helicopters and a C-295 freight aircraft to support the broader humanitarian response. Two WFP amphibious vehicles (SHERPS), able to carry 1,000 kilos of cargo, are in service, carrying food and other essentials to otherwise inaccessible locations.
  • Drone mapping of damage and needs is a key element of WFP’s support to the INGC. WFP drone pilots are assessing damage to critical infrastructure – including hospitals, clinics, schools, roads and bridges. All 44 square kilometres of Beira and several towns and villages outside the city have been mapped so far.
  • Planting for a second 2019 harvest in October-November must be completed in the coming days. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has begun the distribution of maize, bean and vegetable seeds, and of tools, to 14,700 smallholder farming families in Sofala and Manica provinces. WFP is supporting the effort by providing food assistance to the families to ensure seeds are planted rather than consumed.
  • More than 700,000 hectares of crops – primarily maize – were washed away ahead of the main April–May harvest, deepening food insecurity. Other key sources of income, like livestock and fisheries, have also been badly affected.
  • Given the magnitude of the damage caused, Mozambique’s recovery needs too will be significant. WFP is working to ensure that a major government and World Bank-led post-disaster needs assessment that began this week will provide for improved food/nutrition security and social protection programmes.
  • The disaster has underscored how vulnerable southern Africa is to climate shocks, and the imperative of significantly increased investment in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, key elements of WFP’s pre-cyclone work with vulnerable communities, including subsistence farmers.

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