Many Mozambicans still struggling to get back on their feet, one year after cyclone

Many of the people who lost everything when Cyclone Idai swept through central Mozambique a year ago, continue to face devastating hardship, the UN food relief agency said on Friday.

While emergency assistance kickstarted the recovery of 1.8 million affected people, the strongest storm to ever hit the country has left many more facing an uncertain future, lackingthe funding they urgently need to rebuild, the World Food Programme’s Regional Director for Southern Africa said in Geneva.

“For people who had their lives turned upside down, our projects – community farms, road and bridge repair, the rebuilding of schools – are a source of hope,” according to Lola Castro, and “this essential work must continue if we want to see real and lasting recovery.”

Idai made landfall in the vicinity of Beira in central Sofala province on 14 March at Category 4 strength, provoking one of the worst weather-related disasters to hit the southern hemisphere. 

Months’ worth of rain, which fell in a matter of hours, swept through the central region with storm surges of 2.5m in height causing massive flooding that left entire communities submerged under 10 meters of water.  

More than 600 lives were lost, some 1,600 were injured, and close to 2.2 million people were in need of urgent assistance, according to the UN humanitarian wing, OCHA.

Zimbabwe and Malawi also experienced massive devastation, with over 1.1 million people affected in both countries.

Double blow

To make matters worse, just six weeks later Tropical Cyclone Kenneth hit northern Mozambique with wind gusts of up to 220km/h, making it the most intense cyclone ever to hit the African continent.  

Nearly 35,000 houses were either partially or totally destroyed, the Government said, and more than 18,000 people were initially displaced.

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