Oxfam and international and local partners are planning to help people in Mozambique hit by a second devastating cyclone in less than six weeks. Oxfam is part of the COSACA consortium with Save the Children and Care now assessing people’s needs and preparing to distribute mosquito nets, food and hygiene kits.
Cyclone Kenneth brought torrential rains to northern Mozambique, causing flash floods, burst rivers and storm surges, putting a further 160,000 people at risk. The storm slammed into the port city of Pemba and the Macomia district in Cabo Delgado province, in the north of the country, killing at least nine people and damaging or destroying more than 35,000 homes.
The cyclone has stalled over Cabo Delgado, and is currently bringing heavy rains, with up to one year of normal levels (300-500mm, locally up to 800mm) expected to fall. There is already flash flooding in Pemba and Macomia, with potential landslides and storm surges impacting the northeastern districts of the region.
Cyclones rarely hit this northern part of Mozambique, so people there are not as well-equipped to deal with the damage. Alima, 19, whose house was destroyed in Macomia, said: “The wind and the rain were so strong. Everything was destroyed. I was very afraid and I'm still afraid now. We need food, we need water, and we need a new house. Right now, we're sleeping outside and all the children have started coughing".
Ajira, 45, a farmer of maize and cassava, said: "Nothing can prepare you for something like this. And there are no words to express it. My fields were all destroyed by the storm. It will be very difficult to recover from this. I have a family of ten to support and we have nothing to eat. It's going to be a very difficult time".
Dorothy Sang, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Advocacy Manager, said: “Just six weeks after Cyclone Idai hit areas of Mozambique further south around the port city of Beira, we are still only just scratching the surface of the huge needs. To have this second large-scale disaster hit is a massive blow to Mozambique."
While the two storms hit different parts of the country, the cost will be cumulative to a poor country. The World Bank says Cyclone Idai has cost the country $773 million. But the human cost is worse – people have lost homes, jobs, livelihoods and loved ones. The humanitarian response to Idai is only 28% funded and Sang said, “We are not even close to being able to help people rebuild their lives. Another disaster on top of this will undoubtedly make it much harder for us to do so with such stretched resources.”
Cyclone Kenneth is yet another deadly warning of climate change, hitting the world’s poorest people hardest. Mozambique is the sixth-poorest country in the world according to IMF. Its carbon emissions are 55 times less than US. International governments – particularly major emitters – have a dual responsibility to cut emissions fast and help vulnerable people now, including those whose lives have been torn apart by Cyclone Idai.
In the first month of its response to Cyclone Idai, Oxfam has already reached almost 100,000 people with life-saving, emergency aid. Donations to support Oxfam’s emergency response to Cyclone Idai in southern Africa can be made online at oxfam.org.nz/idai.