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African Development Bank leads reconstruction efforts in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi in aftermath of deadly cyclone

“This natural disaster once more shows the importance of building climate-resilient economies in the African continent.” –African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina

The water is receding in Beira – Mozambique’s second largest city – weeks after the deadly cyclone hit in March 2019, leaving behind scenes of desolation and grief-stricken survivors.

Tropical Cyclone Idai, one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere, caused catastrophic damage in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, leaving more than 1,000 people dead and thousands missing.  Hundreds of thousands of people have been rendered homeless and displaced. Thousands of classrooms were destroyed, and children thrown out of school.

In the aftermath of natural disasters like cyclones, initial efforts concentrate on humanitarian relief and the immediate needs of loss of life and property. But in addition to immediate relief support, reconstruction and economic recovery will be at the heart of the African Development Bank’s strategy for the affected countries

Indeed, while aid is trickling in, a big push is needed to help rebuild the three countries.

Bank’s mobilization efforts to target reconstruction

The African Development Bank is leading a fundraising effort for the affected countries from private sector sources.

Bank experts are currently assessing key reconstruction priorities and working to mobilise resources from the international community, global philanthropic organisations and the general public.While providing emergency assistance, the Bank’s efforts will focus mostly on medium-term reconstruction needs of the affected areas, including a climate risk insurance plan.

A resource strategy, to be led directly by African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, will see him meeting with private sector leaders to rally additional support for the three flood-affected countries.

To kick-start proceedings, a high-level Bank delegation, headed by its Vice President for Corporate Services and Human Resources Mateus Magala, visited Mozambique from 3-5 April, 2019 to assess firsthand the massive devastation to crops, villages, infrastructure, businesses, and social amenities. 

President of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi assured the team that the Bank’s assistance would go a long way to help victims restart their lives, welcoming the expression of leadership in helping the country get climate insurance.

The first phase of the plan consists of a special relief fund of $1.7 million for Mozambique, specifically for the immediate humanitarian relief effort in the worst affected areas. The Bank is expected to announce similar emergency relief funds for Malawi and Zimbabwe in coming weeks.

In the second phase, the Bank will set up a response and reconstruction programme, committing up to $100 million to begin economic recovery and rehabilitation in for Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Survivors look to assistance to restart lives

With thousands of others, Lurdes Martinho, a middle-aged trader and mother of six lost everything after Cyclone Ida swept through her neighborhood, ravaging everything in its path. When the cyclone hit Praia Nova,in Beira, the capital, all she could think of were her six children. She rushed into her house, grabbed her children and ran fast as she could. When she looked back from several miles away, everything was in ruins.

With teary eyes, and surrounded by other women and children at the Picoco makeshift camp, she narrated her nightmare:

“We had thought everything would be over within a few hours, but the water level kept rising dangerously. We saw our houses fall to ruins and everything around us destroyed.  We couldn’t salvage anything,” she said.

Like Martinho, Margarida Luis fled with her children, leaving everything behind.  Her house was destroyed and her trading stall completely ruined. The sheer thought of life after the emergency relief − currently being offered by government and humanitarian organizations− troubles her. She needs to raise capital for her trade, and a new home.

She fought back tears as she spoke to a Bank assessment team:  “I don’t want to go back to my village, as the fear of another cyclone haunts my children and I.  We need help to resettle in a safer place and are happy to move to another location.”

The African Development Bank is also working to put together a long-term solution to climate risk in Southern Africa, a region subject to a continuous cycle of floods, droughts and cyclones, and one of the most vulnerable in the continent.

At a brief meeting with the Bank’s delegation, Deputy Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Mozambique, Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, described the rebuilding stage as critical.

In his words, “We can support emergency efforts, but we count on organizations like the African Development Bank to lead reconstruction efforts. We are all partners helping the government.”

To view photos, click onhttps://flic.kr/s/aHsmAf4xXB

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