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Mozambique on recovery path after devastation by cyclones

Friday February 14 2020

Cyclone Kenneth in Mozambique

This handout aerial photograph taken and released on April 27, 2019 by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) shows damaged communities in Macomia district, Mozambique, on April 27, 2019 following the destruction by Cyclone Kenneth. PHOTO | OCHA | SAVIANO ABREU | AFP 

ARNALDO VIEIRA
By ARNALDO VIEIRA
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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expressing optimism that Mozambique’s economic recovery is on course, a year after the southern Africa country was beaten down by tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth.

Mozambique, which recently discovered oil and gas, was inching towards elections when storms hit the country, as well as neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi, destroying crops and infrastructure, as well as killing hundreds of people.

Now IMF says the country has put together its life to rebuild from the effects of that tragedy.

“I am happy that Mozambique’s economy is recovering from the effects of Tropical Cyclones Idai and Kenneth last year”, IMF’s Deputy Managing Director Tao Zhang said in a statement after a five-day visit to the southern African country.

AID

During the visit, Mr Tao met President Felipe Nyusi and heard his vision for the country.

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He also met the Bank of Mozambique Governor, other senior officials and representatives from the private sector, civil society, and the international community.

Mr Tao toured a drought recovery and resilience project in rural Matutuíne, financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), and a shelter for the vulnerable elderly in Maputo.

He, however, made no references to resumption of aid to Mozambique.

An estimate by the UN Economic Commission for Africa said Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe would need at least $1 billion to rebuild their economies.

HARDEST HIT

The hardest hit was Mozambique where at least 600 people died and 1,600 others were injured, according to official estimates.

Nearly 240,000 houses were also damaged and over 111,000 others completely destroyed.

It all started on the night of March 14 when the winds started blowing across Mozambique, reaching a maximum speed of 195km/hr.

It was cyclone Idai, with its epicentre at the port of the country’s second-largest city, Beira

Only six weeks later, as people fought to recover, a second shocking giant storm — Cyclone Kenneth hit the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula, affecting more than 400,000 people.

WORST CYCLONES

Cyclones Idai and Kenneth were the worst natural disasters to hit southern Africa in at least two decades.

In July 2019, President Nyusi told Euronews that the cyclones disrupted his country’s growth, adding they were already trying to revive the economy with the support of international partners.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres visited Mozambique’s affected areas in July last year, saying at the moment: “it breaks my heart to see children get an education in a classroom with no roof”.

“Months after cyclones Idai and Kenneth, the situation in Mozambique is still extremely difficult”, the UN chief also said adding: “the international community must continue to provide tangible support and show strong solidarity”.

POPE'S VISIT

Six months after the two cyclones ravaged the country, the Roman Catholic Church head, Pope Francis, also visited Mozambique.

"I would like my first words of closeness and solidarity to be addressed to all those struck by cyclones Idai and Kenneth, whose devastating effects continue to be felt by so many families," Pope Francis said in September.

"I want you to know of my own participation in your anguish and suffering, and the commitment of the Catholic community to respond to this most difficult situation."

Even with the Pope’s blessing and pronouncements of hope, Mozambique has still a long way to recover from the effects of the two deadlycyclones; Idai and Kenneth, last year.