Mozambique on a long road to recovery

At the heart of a cyclone which tears the sky, destroys the land and all that crosses its path is a place of calm where the strong winds derive its powers. Its aftermath, however, brings nothing close to calmness; a harsh reality Mozambique has learnt.

In 23 years, more than 14 cyclones have hit the rich and endowed Southern African nation, destroying homes and crops as well as threatening the livelihoods of millions. The most recent, cyclone Kenneth, is no different. With winds of 220km/h (140mph) and torrential rains, the country is on the brink of flooding, again.

For the first time in one season, two cyclones have hit the Southern African nation. In March, one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere, Cyclone Idai, hit Mozambique and its neighbours— Malawi and Zimbabwe— killing at least 700 people, injuring over 1,500, damaging at least 33,600 houses and 500,000 hectares of crops as well as displacing millions.

Likewise, its counterpart, Cyclone Kenneth which arrived on April 25 ripped through Northern Mozambique, killing five and wiping out villages. Although the damages are less severe compared to Idai, its remnants packed the power of a category-4 hurricane and has the potential to bring twice as much rain as Idai did last month, stated the United Nations world programme.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “More than 747,000 people are living within the Cyclone’s path, including a projected 117,000 living in high wind speed zones in Mozambique.” Since March 27 when the first cyclone of the season hit, more than 14,800 cases of malaria have been reported in Mozambique’s Sofala Province alone, and the country is one of 15 that account for 80 percent of malaria deaths around the world.

Cholera has also been a challenge. Since Cyclone Idai, hundreds of thousands of people have been living in temporary settlements without access to safe water and sanitation, resulting in a cholera outbreak. As of April 5, The country’s Ministry of Health reported more than 2,430 cases and three deaths.

The effects of Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth, are threatening to bring a widespread health challenge, a catastrophic hunger crisis compounded by the existing food insecurity and a general economic downturn. The country, which has continued in a slow growth trajectory following the 2016 hidden-debt crises and regional drought, is yet to revert to pre-level crises economically and the disaster caused by the two cyclones in the space on one month, slows the process further.

The country’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture and the growth forecast for 2019 and 2020 stands at 4.5 percent and 5.0 percent respectively. This projections according to the African Development Bank would be largely driven by agriculture. Unfortunately, with the majority of the crops damaged, the farmlands flooded and the farmers displaced, it would be difficult for the country to realize its full growth potential this year.