Beira, Mozambique 13 October 2019-- “All schools built according to the UN-Habitat proposed standards resisted Cyclone Idai in Mozambique.” This was the message from the Ministry of Education following the devastating cyclone Idai which battered Mozambique wreaking havoc in its wake.
The Ministry of Education is determined to scale-up the Safer Schools approach and requested all partners to employ the school building codes developed by UN-Habitat in the future school constructions in Mozambique. The Minister reported to the Cabinet Council and to UN-Habitat Executive Director Ms. Maimuna Moh’d Sharif during her mission there that the schools were safe.
In 2017, UN-Habitat was hired by the Ministry of Education and Human Development to provide technical assistance to a World Bank-funded 15 million USD school reconstruction and retrofitting programme. Almost 1,100 classrooms were rehabilitated or re-built in Central and Northern Mozambique using a mix of conventional and local building materials by this project.
Some 1,000 classrooms have been affected annually by floods or strong winds and needed repairs in Mozambique in the past 15 years. That is why, in 2011-2012, UN-Habitat Mozambique team started the design of the Safer Schools Programme, which includes a comprehensive assessment of schools damaged or destroyed by natural hazards, hazard risk mapping at national level, development of building guidelines and improved building codes to provide more resistance to the school structure to the impact of the most common natural hazards in Mozambique.
The UN-Habitat’s Safer Schools Programme is central to the community resilience because often schools, health centres and other public buildings are the only structures built with improved/ conventional materials in remote areas in Mozambique. By rebuilding a damaged school in a safe and resilient manner, UN-Habitat and its partners are ensuring the continuity of education provision in the aftermath of future disasters as well making sure isolated communities will have at least one resistant building to be used as safe havens during emergencies.
The Safer Schools Programme included the enhancement of coordination among Government, donors and other partners and delivery of capacity building trainings to sub-contractors and communities engaged for building schools. The programme culminated in a strong partnership established with UNICEF in 2015.
One was completed last year, built by the community. Windows were broken and the tin roofs flew away, with the exception being some pieces that got ripped off and now hang over the students as they learn math and sciences under the sun.