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.
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 (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 official death toll has risen to 518 people as of 1 April.
NEW YORK, United States of America, April 2, 2019 – HIGHLIGHTS
• The official death toll has risen to 518 people as of 1 April, according to the Government.
• More than 1,000 cases of cholera and one death have been reported.
• Nearly 110,000 houses have been identified by the authorities as totally destroyed (59,910), partially destroyed (33,925) or flooded (15,784).
• As of 31 March, nearly 33,000 people had been reached with some type of shelter assistance.
As of 1 April, the official death toll rose to 518 people; an increase of 17 people since 31 March, according to the Government. Nearly 110,000 houses were identified by the authorities as totally destroyed (59,910), partially destroyed (33,925) or flooded (15,784). More than 146,000 displaced people were sheltering in 155 sites across Sofala (116,237 people), Manica (14,047 people), Zambezia (13,203 people) and Tete (2,655 people) as of 1 April; of whom more than 7,400 were identified as vulnerable, according to the Government.
The Ministry of Health reported on 1 April that 1,052 cases of cholera had been recorded, including one death. Most of the cases reported have been reported in Beira (959 cases; 1 death), followed by Nhamatanda (87 cases), and Dondo, where a new cholera outbreak was reported, with six confirmed cases. Of these, 258 cases (25 per cent) were reported in the last 24 hours. The cholera outbreak is occurring in both urban (Beira city) and rural settings, including in flooded areas where water, sanitation and health infrastructure has been severely damaged.
More than 711,000 hectares of crops have been recorded as destroyed, raising concerns over food security and sustainability of return. In Chimoio district alone, authorities report that more than 451,300 hectares of agricultural land have been destroyed, comprising 65 per cent of the total crops in the Province. Displaced people living in accommodation centres report that, in addition to damaged or destroyed houses, lack of food and destroyed livelihoods are among the reasons for people not wanting to return, according to Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) monitoring.
The cholera taskforce is holding daily meetings in Beira to inform operational response. The Oral Cholera Vaccination campaign is scheduled to begin on 3 April and to last six days. Training for personnel giving the vaccinations is underway. Meanwhile, community sensitization is on-going on radio and through printed communication materials to convey messages related to communicable disease control and when to seek health-care. The Community Engagement Group has amplified messages to address and discount rumours that the cholera vaccination will give people cholera.
As of 31 March, nearly 33,000 people had been reached with some type of shelter assistance, with an increasing pipeline expected; although not for all items. Air and boat lifts transported shelter kits to Buzi Town to cover 4,000 households. Registration has started, with distributions scheduled for 1 April, targeting 1,250 people, with plans to scale up over the coming days. The authorities are requesting for more support with shelter kits for people being relocated from schools to the new accommodation centres, to facilitate the re-opening of schools. The issue of shelter is becoming increasingly critical given the movement of affected people from accommodation shelters to areas of land, which will become permanent housing sites. UNICEF visited one of these new sites and reported that the areas were already hosting many affected people but lacked access to water or sanitation and in need of better shelter materials. There are also concerns around the notice given by the Government on relocation activities and that children will be relocated far from their schools. The Education Cluster are planning to discuss the issue with the Director of Education.
WFP has provided food to 56,000 people in Manica province, covering areas in Buzi and Nhamatanda and are mobilizing support for a further 50,000 people in the coming days. Mussorize remains difficult to access without a helicopter and the team on the ground is looking into possibilities of temporary crossing through Zimbabwe to reach the populations who have had little assistance to date. Some 10,000 people are being targeted for wet feeding in Beira City, with partners scaling up to 15,000 to 20,000 people in coming days. There is more capacity for the partner to scale further but need to identify kitchens in which to prepare the meals. Several schools have been identified and will be piloted as potential feeding sites.
Between 65,000 and 75,000 people will be targeted for seed distribution, in view of the limited planting window (1 to 4 weeks) within which a good harvest can be expected. Protection partners are monitoring the new relocation sites for protection risks. More broadly there have been some protection risks identified, particularly in relation to food distributions. There is a need to also target communities outside the transit centres.
The municipal authorities, with support from health partners and donors have restored the water supply for Beira city, and are planning the same for Buzi. Bladders have been installed and water trucking in accommodation-centres is ongoing, in addition to the re-establishment of the chlorination plant in Beira city. UNICEF has provided water treatment product (CERTEZA) in Beira neighborhoods to reach 50,000 households and are prioritizing water treatment units to CTCs/Hospitals – currently systems are in Buzi town, Estaguinha, Nhagau Sede/Beira municipality, Macurungo health center. Current constraints include, limited data on number of people affected and in need, lack of enough water tanks, buckets, clinical files, fuel supplies, cholera beds and testing kits.
The health cluster in Chimoio has reported a shortage of chlorine, having received only 10 per cent of the required amount. The areas of Gondola and Vanduzi still require chlorine for water treatment. The Director of Health in Chimoio has reported that a stock of 70,000 malaria treatments are available in the province and has requested partners for support in providing mosquito nets.
A new communication link has been set up at the airport which will enable faster internet. There are currently 810 registered users and around 250 people on the internet at any one time. Buzi now has 3G and a V-SAT is being established in Matarara, according to the Emergency Telecommunication Cluster (ETC)
31 March 2019, Harare – the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) handed over to Government today some 80 MT relief items, including family tents, plastic tarpaulins, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, solar lamps and kitchen sets to support 10,000 Zimbabweans affected by cyclone Idai.
“The devastating cyclone has left people in dire need of humanitarian support,” said UNHCR Country Representative Robert Tibagwa while handing over the airlifted relief items at Robert Mugabe International Airport. “UNHCR supplies will help provide shelter and basic items to survivors, including women and children, as they have lost everything.”
UNHCR is part of humanitarian team working in close collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe and other humanitarian partners to ensure people receive the required assistance and are protected from risks and dangers. UNHCR has also deployed a team of emergency experts to support relief efforts.
In Zimbabwe, it has been reported that Tropical Cyclone Idai has displaced an estimated 90,000 people in nine districts mainly in the eastern highlands part of the country. The cyclone has reportedly killed over 200, with some 300 still missing and has affected 270,000 people. Vulnerable people, including women and children, are at risk and in need of relief and recovery support. About 95 per cent of the infrastructure, including schools, roads and bridges have been damaged in Chimanimani districts.
Zimbabwe hosts some 20,000 refugees and asylum-seekers mainly in Tongogara Refugee Camp where some 1060 houses were damaged by Cyclone Idai affecting some 5,300 people. The water and sanitary infrastructure was severely affected leading to a shortage of clean drinking water.
UNHCR is grateful to its corporate partner International Humanitarian City (IHC) which has donated the aid flight.
The airlift is part of UNHCR efforts to provide aid to thousands of people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. A plane carrying UNHCR relief items arrived in Maputo, Mozambique last week. Another flight is on its way to Malawi today (Sunday).