Following the devastation from Cyclone Idai the disaster once again brings to the fore the reality that Mozambique is among the most disaster-prone countries in the world.
The authorities have identified more than 6,500 vulnerable people after the cyclone struck Mozambique two weeks ago leaving in its wake a trail of destruction and displacements.
Among the most affected include the elderly, disabled, sick, orphaned and separated children with families seeking to reunite with their loved ones through family tracing services.
There are many separated families adding to the toll on survivors.
The United Nations on Monday made an emergency appeal for USD 282 million to help Mozambique start recovering from the devastation for the next three months.
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock says the funding will be used to restore livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of displaced, provide water, sanitation and education.
Zimbabwe and Malawi were also hard-hit by the cyclone where the death toll has risen above 750 in the three southern African countries.
Disasters impact on people and the economy
According to the UNDP, the occurrence of natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, drought and earthquakes has consistently had a significant impact on people and the economy.
As more areas become accessible, Relief Web reports that the official death continues to rise with at least 446 people reported dead as of 24 March, according to the government.
Close to 110,000 people have been displaced by the floods. They are sheltering in 130 collective sites across Sofala, Manica, Zambezia and Tete.
The challenge of displacement is further compounded by increasing acute watery diarrhoea cases, according to the Mozambican government.
Following the aftermath of the cyclone, some 58,660 houses were reported to have either been partially or totally destroyed with some 2,184 flooded.
Shelter Cluster says that the city of Beira is the hardest hit with approximately two-thirds of the houses suffering roofing damage and the other third have suffered structural failure.
Financial protection against disasters in Mozambique
Given the country’s risk profile, the public costs related to disaster management are significant.
Sixty per cent of the population lives along the coastline and are vulnerable to tropical storms and the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) says that the recurrent natural hazards have been on the rise since 1960.
In a report prepared by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and the World Bank, these disasters require diverse, harmonized and long-term actions.
The “Financial Protection against Disasters in Mozambique” was prepared as part of a forward-thinking agenda on disaster risk management.
From the assessment, floods in Mozambique affect 122,000 inhabitants on average inflicting an estimated USD 440 million in damages per year.
And during the dry spells, droughts cost the agriculture sector an estimated USD 20 million, while a 100-year return period earthquake could cause damages of USD 440 million or higher.
Between 1984 and 2014, the annual average losses and damages caused by disasters were MZN 4,129 million while the average for the years between 2000 and 2014 was MZN 7,543 million.
Mozambique and Haiti most vulnerable to economic losses
Italy, Japan, China, USA, Spain and France were also classified as “high risk” environments for investors, insurers and businesses.
The Natural Disasters Economic Loss Index (NDELI), released by risk intelligence and ratings company, Maplecroft, evaluated the economic impact of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, storms, flooding, drought, landslides, extreme temperatures and epidemics between 1980 and 2010.
In 2000, Mozambique was hit by the worst flood in 50 years, which killed 800 people and caused economic losses estimated at USD 419 million.
At the time, the World Bank warned that Mozambique was at increasing risk from storm surges due to climate change. The estimates indicated that 41 per cent of the country’s coastal area and 52 per cent of coastal GDP was vulnerable.
The UNDP says that Mozambique is more frequently and severely affected by natural disasters.
These are currently experienced as both extreme recurrent flooding and lower impact floods.
Seven years ago, tropical depressions and cyclones destroyed thousands of homes and hectares of crops, affecting a quarter of a million families.
Projections then have come true since the forecasts indicated that more precipitation and more extreme events were likely to occur.
In 2019, it was cyclone Idai whose destruction is yet to be fully quantified.
Mozambique’s hopeless grim statistics
Cyclone Idai was a high-end Category 2 storm and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says that the destruction left by the cyclone is “worse than imagined”.
Flood waters have submerged entire villages in a densely populated sugar cane plantation creating an inland ocean.
With subsiding water levels, there is a possibility that the death toll will go even higher and there are fears that disease outbreaks may increase as some cholera cases have been reported in Beira. Malaria may also increase among people trapped by the flooding.
How countries prepare for disasters
In Africa, 19 countries are members of the Africa Disaster Risk Financing (ADRF) Initiative. The initiative works in these countries to develop and implement tailored financial protection policies and instruments which can help them respond quickly and resiliently to disasters.
ADRF is the first programme on the continent focusing on the broad Disaster Risk Finance (DRF) agenda.
Implemented by the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the initiative is financed by the European Union (EU) as part of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) – EU Programme, Building Disaster Resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa.
DRF aims to strengthen countries’ ability to manage economic and fiscal stresses when disasters strike.
Countries have a wide array of financial protection policies and instruments to consider, including sovereign risk finance, social protection programmes, as well as agriculture and risk insurance programmes.
Each country has its own approach since there is no one-size-fits-all approach to disaster risk financing.
Since its inception, the ADRF Initiative has focused on three areas to pioneer DRF in Africa.
Gathering and developing disaster risk information
The other countries are Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Malawi, Mali, Senegal, and Uganda.
Data collected is used to inform dialogue on DRF with national governments, thus shaping the broader disaster risk management agendas in these countries.
In Mozambique, this data has informed the dialogue on school safety, detailing the financial impact of disasters on schools and laying the case for the need to invest in making schools more resilient to disaster.
You can also read about AfDB pledging USD25 billion to mitigate climate change effects, how Africa is suffering from US-China trade wars and also about Mozambique signing more bilateral ties with Rwanda.