Tropical cyclone leaves families homeless in Zambezia

MAPUTO, Mozambique, 27 January 2012 – According to reports received by UNICEF, hundreds of families in the districts of Pebane and Maganja da Costa in Zambezia have had their dwellings destroyed as a result of the tropical cyclone Funso, which recently bruised the Zambezia coast. Action Aid, a UNICEF partner, reported that more than 2,200 families had seen their houses fully or partially destroyed by the winds and rains from the cyclone.

The districts of Pebane and Maganja da Costa are located on the Mozambican coast north of the provincial capital of Quelimane. When a cyclone hits land in this area, the communities are often vulnerable to the effects of the bad weather, but disaster risk reduction initiatives in recent years has helped reduce the number of casualties normally following a natural disaster like a cyclone.

A total of 33 classrooms in eight different schools were also reported fully or partially destroyed. Children’s education is often a less visible effect and casualty of inclement weather conditions, such as cyclones and floods, but can nevertheless have a significant impact on children’s wellbeing. For UNICEF, ensuring continuity of education after an emergency has long been a key priority. The organization stores and distributes school tents that can be erected on short notice in the wake of an emergency, allowing school activities to continue under a roof.

Many communities in the two districts have also been cut off from other areas due to roads being damaged by flood waters from the cyclone. Most roads in the districts are unpaved and not strong enough to withstand the heavy onslaught of wind and rain.

According to Action Aid, only two people died as a result of the cyclone in the two districts, a relatively low number given the vulnerability of the communities and the strength of the cyclone (tropical cyclone Funso at times reached Category 4 status, with sustained winds of 150 km/hour or more).

Immediate needs typically arising in a post-emergency situation include the need for shelter, bed nets against malaria and chlorine against water borne diseases. All efforts are focused on normalizing the situation, so that members of the community can return to their usual activities with as little interruption as possible, something which is particularly important for children attending school.

For more information, please contact

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: