On 25 April 2019, as Mozambique was responding to the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai five weeks previously, Tropical Cyclone Kenneth hit the northern part of the country causing widespread devastation, flooding and displacement.
In a part of Mozambique experiencing significant poverty and instability caused by complex conflict dynamics, women, men, boys and girls in the province of Cabo Delgado had limited resilience to withstand the shock of a cyclone. Early reports indicated that certain groups were hit particularly hard, including female-headed households, pregnant and lactating women, people with disabilities, the elderly, and boys and girls. This was confirmed by the Rapid Gender and Protection Analysis (RGPA).
COSACA, a consortium comprised of CARE International, Oxfam and Save the Children, identified four districts of the Cabo Delgado province to focus its analysis based on ongoing and planned operations: Ibo, Quissanga, Macomia and Metuge Districts as well as Pemba Town. The RGPA was built up progressively over the data collection period through 39 focus group discussions (FGD), 34 key informant interviews (KII) and observational safety audits.
Mozambique has the thirteenth highest level of women's participation in parliament in the world yet, at the same time, a third of women report experiencing violence, reflecting entrenched gender inequalities within society. These inequalities contribute to women and girls appearing to be the worst-affected by Cyclone Kenneth, subject to greater food insecurity and increased risk of gender-based violence. This is in line with global evidence on the disproportionate, gendered impact of disasters and conflict. Humanitarian responders must account for the different experience of crisis felt by women, men, boys and girls, and ensure actions are tailored accordingly. Moreover, those responsible for recovery programming should use the opportunity to address inequalities and transform harmful gender norms where possible.
The following chapters explore in detail pre-existing gender dynamics and the gendered impact of the emergency. Overarching and sector-specific recommendations can be found at the back of the report.
Summary of key findings
Poverty and conflict have compromised resilience: Extreme poverty, instability and limited access to quality services in northern Mozambique have reduced communities' resilience and exacerbated the impact of Cyclone Kenneth in Cabo Delgado. Inaccessibility to areas on the mainland due to insecurity and damaged infrastructure has slowed the humanitarian response to some areas. It is crucial that agencies conduct a conflict analysis before any intervention and update it regularly in order to 'do no harm'. All staff - programme and support personnel - must understand what conflict sensitivity looks like in this context and how it relates to their responsibilities.
Protection and gender-based violence: Protection risks are significant, particularly for vulnerable groups. Protection risks include those related to loss of shelter, livelihoods and documents, conflict, displacement, and gender-based violence (GBV) exacerbated by gender inequalities. GBV response services are limited and not adequately survivor-centred; the cyclone response offers an opportunity to strengthen that capacity and implement GBV prevention and mitigation strategies.
Food insecurity and livelihoods: Food insecurity varies between locations due to existing levels of poverty, crop damage, disruption to fishing and other livelihoods, and whether humanitarian access is compromised by insecurity and access issues. Gender inequalities are rendering women and children more food insecure and susceptible to malnutrition than men. Conflict may increasingly disrupt farming in rural areas as communities fear going to the fields in case of attack by armed groups. The potential impact of this on food security should be further investigated. In some areas, conflict has already caused displacement, distancing people from their land and livelihoods. The impact of mining concessions on access to productive lands also requires greater understanding.
Savings groups are popular among women in Cabo Delgado and can provide additional protection and psychosocial benefits. In conjunction with income generating activities, savings groups offer a strong entry point for humanitarian and longer-term support.
Shelter, land and resettlement: Rebuilding damaged and destroyed shelters is a priority concern for the affected population as it is linked to protection, privacy, dignity, health and livelihood needs. Agencies should consider advocacy and sensitisation to change practices around housing, land and property which are discriminatory to women in spite of some existing legal protections. Greater consultation with people in transit sites is required over resettlement plans including information about timing, levels of shelter assistance to be provided, and available services and livelihood options at resettlement sites. Neighbouring communities should be included in constructive dialogue to mitigate conflict related to sudden population increases.
Access to safe and dignified WASH facilities: Access to clean water is variable. Women and girls are predominantly responsible for water collection; travelling long distances for drinking and bathing water is putting them at risk of harassment and sexual violence. In some areas fear of attack by armed groups is forcing them to use water of worse quality to remain closer to their villages. Pregnant and lactating women, children and the elderly are particularly at risk of unclean water. Pre-existing, deep-rooted cultural suspicions around the use of chlorine to purify water require a strong understanding for successful hygiene promotion.
Menstrual Hygiene Management: Women's and girls' ability to manage menstruation with dignity has been heavily impacted by the destruction of bathing shelters, compounded by pre-existing poverty and discriminatory attitudes towards menstruation overall. Women and girls are lacking access to menstrual hygiene materials, places to hygienically dispose of pads, and privacy to wash and dry reusable cloths. In addition to providing support for rebuilding of safe, private bathing shelters, agencies should consider trialling more sustainable options for managing menstruation, such as Ruby Cups.
Health/Sexual & Reproductive Health: Services which were often inadequate prior to the cyclone have been further compromised hitting vulnerable groups hardest, including people with chronic illnesses, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly and children. The cyclone has damaged vital medicines and health infrastructure, including solar-powered refrigeration for vaccines. Maternal health care is inadequate to meet needs in Cabo Delgado and has been worsened by damage to health facilities. Family planning has been disrupted through damage to health centres and contraceptives. Access to contraception is variable dependent on access to healthcare overall and opposition by men to family planning is impacting on the health and education of women and girls. Reluctance by men to use condoms increases risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Programming aimed at attitudinal and behaviour change is necessary to enable women to access their sexual and reproductive health rights.
Community networks: Participation in community groups is high among men, women and adolescent boys offering clear opportunities for humanitarian and longer-term recovery programming to be community-based. The reason why fewer group exist for adolescent girls should be investigated and spaces facilitated so that girls can similarly benefit from social networks.
Access to information: Regarding issues that affect the community as a whole, men enjoy greater access to information than women and spend more time outside the home interacting with others through community meetings, work, religious and social activities. Humanitarians must design communications strategies that overcome barriers faced by women and girls in accessing information. These should integrate community preferences for receiving and feeding back information, literacy levels, and restrictions on mobility, whether related to gender norms, age or physical impairment.
Education: Schools have suffered cyclone damage to infrastructure and educational materials disrupting classes and exams. Literacy rates are much lower among women than men, and gender inequality, early marriage and early pregnancy continue to compromise girls' education requiring a holistic response to increase access to education for both sexes.