United Nations, Jul 11 : As UN Secretary-General António Guterres arrives in the southern African nation of Mozambique on Thursday for a two-day visit, he will be surveying the damage wrought by the deadly back-to-back cyclones earlier this year.
UN News reports from the ground, on some of the extraordinary stories of loss, courage, survival and recovery, that have defined the months since then.When the winds started blowing across Mozambique on the night of March 14, reaching a maximum speed of 195 kilometers per hour, the tin roof was the first thing to blow away at the home of the Mutizo family.
Inside the tiny coastal house, held together with pieces of plastic, cardboard, and bricks, 62-year Laurinda, her two adult children, Teresa and Ernesto, together with Teresa’s one-year old baby and the two teenagers the family adopted years ago, hugged and huddled together.
In a quick moment, Teresa’s hair salon, adjoining their house, simply flew away, she told UN News.
Moments later, it was Ernesto’s business shop, where the cyclone destroyed the copy machine and computer he had invested in, with the precious savings he had managed to put away, working as a barber.
The family hoped their remaining source of livelihood, the two little machambas where Laurinda grew rice, would survive, but in the morning, they found out that had been destroyed as well. As the Mutizos realised that their livelihoods had vanished, many other families came to the same conclusion. The deadly cyclones had left behind only debris, where there had been businesses.
According to UN, Cyclone Idai affected 1.85 million people in the provinces of Inhambane, Manica, Tete, Zambézia and Sofala. In the bustling coastal city of Beira in particular, 90 pc of all the infrastructure was damaged. Just six weeks later, as people struggled to recover, a second devastating monster storm - Cyclone Kenneth hit the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula, affecting more than 400,000 people.
Both cyclones were then followed by weeks of torrential rains. At one point, a UN humanitarian worker described the flooded area as “an inland ocean” that was as big as Luxembourg - about 125km by 25km across. Guterres will begin his mission on Thursday by meeting President Filipe Nyusi, and receive updated briefings from UN agencies in the field, before visiting some of the affected areas.
Last month, the country hosted a donors’ conference, hoping to raise $3.2 billion to facilitate the reconstruction of the affected areas. International donors pledged only US$ 1.2 billion. At the time, the UN Secretary-General stated that “this is the moment to translate into concrete gestures our solidarity with a country affected by one of the worst weather-related catastrophes in African history.” For him, the disaster “also warns us about the urgency of tackling climate change.”(UNI)