OVERVIEW OF THE CRISIS
Multiple and consecutive shocks, including drought, cyclones, floods and insecurity, have left an estimated 2.5 million people* -almost 10 per cent of the country’s population- in need of life-saving and resilience-building assistance in Mozambique
Poor performance of the January-March 2019 rainy season in southern provinces (Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane) caused substantial agricultural losses, with lingering effects expected to last until the next main harvest in 2020. Then, for the first time in recorded history, two strong tropical cyclones hit the country during the same season in 2019, leaving a trail of death, damage and destruction whose impacts will be felt well into 2020. Cyclone Idai made landfall in March 2019 near Beira City in Sofala Province, bringing strong winds and torrential rains to Sofala, Zambezia, Tete and Manica provinces. Six weeks later, Cyclone Kenneth struck the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula. Combined, the two cyclones killed at least 648 people (45 deaths due to Cyclone Kenneth and at least 603 due to Cyclone Idai); injured nearly 1,700 people; damaged or destroyed more than 277,700 homes; and fully or partially destroyed more than 4,200 classrooms. In Cabo Delgado, it is estimated that approximately 60,000 people have been affected and/ or displaced by insecurity since October 2017, including over 200 attacks on villages by armed groups and clashes between security forces and armed groups. For people in villages previously impacted by violence, Tropical Cyclone Kenneth’s landfall represented a crisis on top of a crisis.
More than 1.6 million people are severely food insecure, and this number is expected to increase to 2 million people during the lean season (October 2019-March 2020), according to the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis and the Food Security and Nutrition Assessment conducted by the Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN) in June 2019. Entrenched gender inequalities in Mozambique render women and children more food insecure and susceptible to malnutrition than men. In areas impacted by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, over 80 per cent of the population is dependent on farming/agriculture as primary source of income, and 76 per cent of households headed by women are reliant on subsistence farming. These smallholders have sustained significant crop loss, damaged land, and lost access to savings groups and most have inadequate seed supplies to prepare for the September/ November planting season. Farming families who had already been affected by drought lost all or large portions of their seed stores and the cyclones wiped out the lower-than-usual harvests. Following Cyclone Idai’s landfall, more than 715,000 hectares of staple crops were destroyed together with plant nurseries and irrigation systems, while Cyclone Kenneth affected nearly 55,500 hectares, uprooted over 100,000 cashew and coconut trees, and caused loss of livelihoods, including fishing and aquaculture. Farmers in Manica and Sofala – the two provinces hardest-hit by Cyclone Idai and the subsequent catastrophic flooding - produce approximately 25 per cent of the national cereal output. In Cabo Delgado, violence-related displacement has distanced people from their livelihoods and farming in rural areas may be impacted in the months ahead as communities fear going to the fields in case of attack by armed groups. In the central zone, there are indications that part of the agricultural losses may be offset by the production of the second season, prospects of reconstruction and good agricultural production of the next 2019/2020 campaign. Yet, drought-affected areas in the south of the country are struggling to recover and will likely face an early onset to the lean season. Humanitarian assistance provided in the hardest-hit areas has prevented a more severe deterioration. However, people facing severe food insecurity require urgent assistance through integrated interventions -food assistance, agriculture, livestock and fishery inputs, rehabilitation of infrastructures– to mitigate the lack of food and restore their livelihoods and assets ahead of, and during, the next lean season.
Malnutrition is expected to rise during the 2019/2020 lean season and, for the first time since 2001, cases of pellagra (vitamin B3 deficiency) have been reported in Mozambique.
To date over 250 cases have been confirmed and the Ministry of Health is preparing for up to 3600 cases in the coming months. An estimated 67,500 children require treatment for malnutrition, including 6,500 for Severe Acute Malnutrition and 61,000 for Moderate Acute Malnutrition, according to the SETSAN nutrition survey which covered 31 districts as well as nutrition data in Cabo Delgado collected prior to Tropical Cyclone Kenneth. In districts affected by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, figures do not yet reflect the impact of the cyclones on acute malnutrition, as surveys were carried out before or immediately after the cyclones. Two districts in Cabo Delgado - Ibo and Mecufi – are facing a Serious nutrition situation (Phase 3 of the IPC Acute Malnutrition classification) from July to September and this is expected to increase to four districts – Nicoadala and Maganja da Costa (Zambezia), Balama (Cabo Delgado) and Doa (Tete) – from October 2019 to February 2020.
The cyclones significantly exacerbated pre-existing protection risks, including child protection concerns, sexual and gender-based violence, loss of personal documentation, and issues related to land and property rights. Before the cyclones, families affected by drought in Gaza, Inhambane and Sofala were adopting negative crisis strategies and emergency strategies, including selling productive assets and animals, and taking children out of school to perform household chores, including fetching water. After the cyclones in March and April of 2019, many families lost everything –their homes, their livelihoods and productive family members– and this has heightened the risks of adopting negative coping strategies, including pushing women and children into child labour, child trafficking, child early forced marriage and survival sex, to survive in the months ahead.
Concurrently, the cyclones drastically weakened the response capacities of the social welfare and justice sectors, causing large numbers of pre-existing and emergency-related protection cases to go unaddressed. In areas affected by Cyclone Kenneth (Cabo Delgado and Nampula) it is estimated that approximately 60,000 people have been affected and/ or displaced by insecurity, including over 200 attacks or raids on villages since October 2017 by unidentified armed groups and clashes between security forces and armed groups.
Furthermore, displaced populations, particularly women, often do not have clear tenure arrangements and limited access to land ownership, which aggravates their insecurity and vulnerability to exploitation. Legal support to secure tenure, especially for women, will be critical to set the most basic preconditions for recovery.
Three months after the cyclones hit, and just four months before the next rainy season, more than half a million people (100,000 households) are reportedly still living in destroyed or structurally damaged homes or makeshift shelters.
Another 60,000 people (over 12,000 households) remain in resettlement sites and an estimated 60,000 people have been affected and/or displaced by insecurity in Cabo Delgado.
Many of the shelters that people are residing in are unsafe, inadequately prepared, and lack access to fundamental basic goods and services –such as water and sanitation, shelter and non-food items (NFIs), health, education and protection services and safe spaces– which are their guaranteed minimum rights laid out in international human rights law and inter-agency guidance. Already before the cyclones, quality of housing both in rural and in urban areas was largely poor, mostly due to families’ lack of financial capacity to invest in quality materials, lack of knowledge of safe construction techniques (in urban areas) and traditional building techniques not being adapted to the increased impact of the climate related hazards. The high level of damage caused by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth was exacerbated by this prevailing poor quality of the existing housing stock. At the same time, pre-existing high poverty rates, compounded by high levels of food insecurity, have meant that many families have been unable to rebuild their homes to a minimum level of resilience. Reportedly, vulnerable families have been selling received shelter materials to buy food. At the same time, the precarious living conditions faced by people in destroyed or damaged shelters and resettlement sites have heightened exposure to protection risks, especially for women and children. In some sites, children must walk 3 to 7 kilometres to reach primary schools, while secondary schools are further than 7 kilometres away. Meanwhile, lighting in many sites is scant, numbers of latrines are insufficient, and women and adolescent girls are forced to walk long distances to access water and firewood – all contributing to increased cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
People’s access to health was severely affected by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, with at least 94 health centres damaged, according to the Post Disaster Needs Assessment of May 2019. Equipment, furniture, essential medicines and medical supplies were also destroyed, and staff working in the health sector were themselves impacted by the disasters. People impacted by drought, cyclones/floods and insecurity remain exposed to disease outbreaks (cholera, malaria, dengue etc.), while there is limited access to essential health care services at resettlement sites. While emergency health assistance has helped contain outbreaks and provide life-saving care, challenges related to re-establishment of health services and ongoing provision of medical equipment and medicines remain. Hospitals and clinics in areas experiencing severe water crisis may not able to maintain basic services due to shortages of water, leading to potential closure of inpatient/ admission facilities, inability to conduct institutional childbirth deliveries and impact on those with chronic diseases like HIV/AIDS. In Beira City, which was among those hardest-hit by Cyclone Idai, one in six adults live with HIV, and access to anti-retroviral drugs was compromised by the cyclone. Of the total population affected by Cyclone Idai and Kenneth, UNFPA estimated that there were 149,000 are pregnant women, 17,572 women at risk of life-threatening, pregnancy-related emergencies. With a pre-cyclone maternal death of 452 deaths per 100,000 live birth maternal mortality continues to be a challenge in Mozambique. Destruction of birthing health facilities, equipment, medicines and loss of health records predisposes women and girls of child bearing age to limited access to SRHR services including antenatal care, family planning services and skilled attendance at birth, and could lead to an increase in preventable maternal and neonatal deaths and unplanned pregnancies.
The consecutive crises have negatively impacted education for both boys and girls. Some 1,300 schools and more than 4,200 classrooms were damaged or destroyed. Many school buildings still do not have roofs, some school toilets and water supply are dysfunctional or lacking, and damaged asbestos sheets in school compounds posing health hazards to children and teachers. There are still 50 resettlement sites in 4 provinces, with some 30,000 children 1 to 17 years.
About 90 per cent of them have access to a functional school but 24 per cent have to walk for more than one hour to get to school and only 14 per cent have a school in less than 15 minutes’ walking distance. In the resettlement sites, children learn in Temporary Learning Spaces (TLS); with no desks or benches for teachers or pupils and poor ventilation due to overcrowding and hot tarpaulin tents. Authorities continue to request support for the reconstruction and repair of classrooms and tents and to set-up new temporary classrooms. The quality of teaching and learning are also affected as many teachers and students remain traumatised, exhibiting symptoms of fear, nervousness and distress, resulting in lack of concentration. Female teachers, in particular, have concerns due to damage to their homes and for the safety of their children while at school. Psychosocial support and development of psychosocial support skills is therefore critical for teachers, parents and communities to enable them to assist school children. Contact time between teachers and pupils has reduced as the cyclones caused a loss of days of classes ranging from one to two weeks.
Schools in resettlement sites run shifts to accommodate more children. In some cases, pupils in higher primary or secondary levels do not study because there are no corresponding levels of education offered in their camps. There is apprehension that there may be an increase in school dropouts and early marriages as negative coping strategies for vulnerable families who have lost their livelihoods. There are already reports that boys are absconding from school to earn money for their families and of girls being forced to stay home when funds are limited, as families prioritise boys’ education.
Teachers need teaching materials and children need essential educational materials.
Reduced access to safe water and sub optimal sanitation and hygiene practices could increase the risks of water borne ad vector diseases. Safe water supply coverage in Mozambique stood at 49 per cent prior to the two cyclones, with a large disparity between urban coverage (80 per cent) and rural coverage (35 per cent) even prior to the climate events. Sanitation coverage across the country was 21 per cent, with only 11 per cent coverage in rural areas, and 40 per cent of people still practicing open defecation. Increased use of unprotected water sources increases the risk of outbreaks of cholera, typhoid, eye infections and intestinal parasites, and jeopardizes menstrual hygiene.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.