Mozambique Cyclone Response Illustrates Gaps on Loss and Damage Action

18 June 2019

Mozambique is reeling after twin cyclones Idai and Kenneth €” the first time in recorded history that two strong cyclones hit Mozambique in the same season. The storms killed an estimated 650 people, destroyed 24,000 homes, and displaced 150,000 people. The cyclones affected about 1.8 million people across the country, and women and girls, being the most vulnerable in times of crisis, struggled more than ever to cope with these devastating storms.  

On the island Ibo in northern Mozambique, a local woman recalls seeing people of all ages “with fear written all over their faces,” rushing inside the fort with injuries after being hit by flying objects. “My husband had gone to the sea for fishing. I prayed silently that he be safe.” she explained. “Our house was a total wreck,” she said, adding “And we could see some of our clothes were hanging high up in the branches of nearby trees. I felt like crying as it took years to build our house but now all was gone.” The wind had shredded her husband’s fishing boat apart, leaving nothing behind to salvage. “Our life depends on fishing and without a boat, it’s going to be tough,” she said. “Already, we have lost everything and we don’t know how we will get money to rebuild our house.” A day after the cyclone, she and her family moved to an accommodation centre set by the government near the fort. She was allocated a family tent and a food ration for a week.

The village Mutua became the site of a large displacement camp. Three months later, more than 300 people, most of them women and girls, still call the camp home. These families are struggling to rebuild their lives, and many are afraid to return to the villages where their houses were engulfed by water. Vitorina, a mother of three has been living in the camp since her village was destroyed by flood waters over two months ago. “I was in the field when this strong storm and heavy rains started. It was moving the houses, trees and crops. I was worried about my children. When I arrived home, my house was flooded and all my belongings, including cooking utensils, were washed away. I went with my children to a school nearby home,” she explains.  “I am 32 years old but I had never seen such a huge amount of water. It was my first time to see a horrific thing like this. I will never forget that day,” she added.

According to a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment, Mozambique needs $3.2 billion to recover and reconstruct. But so far, the world has only come up with $1.2 billion €” less than half of what the country needs. 

This is what is at stake in the review of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for Loss and Damage. The review must be inclusive and comprehensive, investigating the needs of developing countries and the solutions to close the gaps in existing finance streams to pay for climate destruction. If not, countries like Mozambique will continue to suffer the effects of loss and damage without sufficient support from the wealthy countries that caused climate-induced disasters in the first place.

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