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Mozambique’s hard road to recovery after Cyclone Idai

in Africa & the Diaspora/Crisis & Natural Disasters by

Three major waves of disaster hit Mozambique with the start of Cyclone Idai in March. Recovery will be slow.

First came the storm for Mozambicans. A cyclone recorded as the strongest to ever occur in the southern hemisphere, also passed through Zimbabwe and Mali. In the end, Mozambique took a brunt of the hit.

Then came the rescues. Emergency workers pulled thousands from debris and floods, but over 1,000 combined in all three countries were reported dead with thousands more missing. Estimates of hundreds of thousands of people are homeless and living on ad hoc public campgrounds.

Next, it was the cholera. Potable water quickly dissipated, leaving sewage and debris to contaminate the leftover drinking sources. In turn, over 3,000 people have been diagnosed with cholera while others more, including newborn babies, contract malaria. The current birth numbers are 6,000 since Cyclone Idai.

Now, the hunger season encroaches. Since Cyclone Idai crashed into Mozambique just before the annual big harvest—washing away most of its crops—a food shortage ensues.

This is just the beginning for a country facing its worst natural disaster. Here are a list of issues in the cleanup and recovery that Mozambique still faces.

Complete rebuilding of infrastructure: Flood waters literally swept away whole villages, towns and parts of cities, as well as, roads. The overflow caused by rain left sinkholes while nearby rivers and waterways crested. When the water receded, weeks later, Mozambique must reconstruct an infrastructure that was weak before the storm.

Recovery and proper burial of deceased: Bodies from Mozambique’s Chimaniani district, an area bordering Zimbabwe, washed into the neighboring country. Zimbabwe’s strategy is to deig up bodies buried in mud and debris then photograph them then send to Mozambique in hopes that the persons can be identified. Meanwhile, limited cool storage to hold bodies speeds up decomposition and the risk of spreading disease.

Orphaned children: U.N estimates that over 1 million children are without parents as a result of Cyclone Idai. Traveling by themselves or in groups with other minors, the children are vulnerable to sex trafficking or being snatched and sent through African slave trading circuits popular in the North Africa and the Middle East.

Reliance on relief aid as main food source: Currently, the United States is one of the main sources of assisted. They are working with agencies like the Red Cross to help the most affected Southern African people in the three countries, which are those living in remote areas. All Africa reported that 600,000 people live isolated due to storm.

As reported by the Army Times, the federal government approved a maximum of $15 million in relief to be meted out by armed forces working at AFRICOM, the military satellite stationed in Africa. Additionally, the Pentagon gave a cut-off date of April 15, and projected that most of the money will go towards transportation costs of moving relief aid supplies to assist 1.8 million people. With 39 airmen, the U.S. is transporting 275 metric tons of food from the U.N. World Food Programme, and other resources.

While the temporary solution provides relief, one of the worries is on-the-ground hostilities that pilfer then stockpile food and supplies for themselves, or personal gain. Already, four people have been arrested for stealing donations to Cyclone Idai survivors in Mozambique.

With the rainy season ending in April, Mozambique hopes they do not experience any more vigorous downpours or storms.

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