Cyclone Kenneth: Extreme weather pummels Mozambique again, putting thousands more lives in danger - Oxfam is there

By Oxfam
Women wade through waist deep water in the streets of the Wimbi neighbourhood of Pemba, Mozambique. Tommy Trenchard

Oxfam and international and local partners are planning to help people in Mozambique, which was hit by a second devastating cyclone less than six weeks after Cyclone Idai. Oxfam is part of the COSACA consortium with Save the Children and Care now assessing people’s needs and preparing to distribute mosquito nets, food and hygiene kits.

Cyclone Kenneth brought torrential rains to northern Mozambique, causing flash floods, burst rivers and storm surges, and putting a further 160,000 people at risk. Oxfam is there and racing to respond now. The storm slammed into the port city of Pemba and the Macomia district in Cabo Delgado province, in the north of the country, killing at least nine people and damaging or destroying more than 35,000 homes. A big rescue mission is underway with many people now facing the threat of landslides and further flooding. Cyclones rarely hit this northern part of Mozambique, so people there are not as well-equipped to deal with the damage.

Carlos Dias, Executive Director of Oxfam’s partner organization, ADEL, said: “The situation in Ibo, Macomia and Quissanga is terrible as they were hardest hit. People are trying to resume their normal lives but their homes have been flooded and many have lost roofs. Roads are damaged. We need to act quickly to limit the impact of hunger and disease. Here in Pemba city the devastation is apparent. Brazilian firefighters were yesterday saving people’s lives. This was the very first time that the province of Cabo Delgado has experienced such a disaster and we are without the expertise to deal with something on this level.”

Alima, 19, whose house was destroyed in Macomia, said: “The wind and the rain were so strong. Everything was destroyed. I was very afraid and I'm still afraid now. We need food, we need water, and we need a new house. Right now, we're sleeping outside and all the children have started coughing".

Ajira, 45, a farmer of maize and cassava, said: "Nothing can prepare you for something like this. And there are no words to express it. My fields were all destroyed by the storm. It will be very difficult to recover from this. I have a family of ten to support and we have nothing to eat. It's going to be a very difficult time.”

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Ajira, 45, photographed by the wreckage of his house in Macomia, Mozambique, two days after the town was hit by cyclone Kenneth. Tommy Trenchard / Oxfam

Dorothy Sang, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Advocacy Manager, said: “Just six weeks after Cyclone Idai hit areas of Mozambique further south around the port city of Beira, we are still only just scratching the surface of the huge needs. To have this second large-scale disaster hit us is a massive blow to Mozambique."

While the two storms hit different parts of the country, the cost will be cumulative to a poor country. The World Bank says Cyclone Idai has cost the country $773 million. But the human cost is worse – people have lost homes, jobs, livelihoods and loved ones. The humanitarian response to Idai is only 28% funded and Sang said, “We are not even close to being able to help people rebuild their lives. Another disaster on top of this will undoubtedly make it much harder for us to do so with such stretched resources.”

Cyclone Kenneth is yet another deadly warning of climate change, hitting the world’s poorest people hardest. Mozambique is the sixth-poorest country in the world according to IMF. Its carbon emissions are 55 times less than the US. International governments - particularly major emitters – have a dual responsibility to cut emissions fast and help vulnerable people now, including those whose lives have been torn apart by Cyclone Idai.

In the first month of its response to Cyclone Idai, Oxfam has already reached almost 100,000 people with life-saving, emergency aid.

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