Disasters, Conflicts and Migration
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Drought in Mozambique is relatively chronic and determined by the rainfall patterns as well as by its spatial and temporal distribution. It occurs every 2-3 years in the central region, and every 5-7 years in the southern region.
Prolonged dry spells can easily lead to drought conditions, particularly in remote areas where agriculture is still very dependent on rain. According to FAO, drought in Mozambique will be more common in the future and the country must brace for it.
Mozambique is situated at the southern end of the East African Rift Valley, a major global fault line. Although seismic activity is not frequent in the country, in February 2006 an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude struck central Mozambique, 220 km southwest of Beira. In the past year, four earthquakes have occurred in the central region of Mozambique, with a magnitude of 5.1-5.6. Earthquake preparedness has become a priority for contingency planning.
To monitor earthquakes, Mozambique has five seismographic stations in Nampula, Tete, Manica, Lichinga and Changalane.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic is a slow onset emerging disaster and is considered a major public health concern. According to UNAIDS, in 2016, Mozambique had 83,000 new HIV infections and 62,000 AIDS-related deaths. There were 1,800,000 people living with HIV (12.3%), with prisoners being the most affected (24%). 54% of the people living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral therapy.
Since 2010, new HIV infections have decreased by 24% and AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 46%.
Despite advances in the fight against the disease, Mozambique is one of the countries where the malaria index is still high, making it one of the major public health problems of Mozambique. The most affected victims are pregnant women and children under 5 years.
Between 2016 and 2017, the number of cases increased by 17% (8.5 million in 2016 to 10 million in 2017), representing today 45% of care in outpatient health units. However, the number of deaths in health units caused by malaria dropped by 33% in the same period, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
Cholera has always been present in Mozambique. During the period 1992 – 2004, registered cases of cholera represented nearly 30% of all cases reported in Africa. In 1998, over 40,000 cases were registered, with 1,353 deaths (Case Fatality Rate - CFR = 3.2%).
More recently, from 14 August 2017 through 11 February 2018, 1,799 cases and one death (CFR = 0.06%) of cholera were reported from the two northern provinces of Nampula and Cabo Delgado. Earlier in 2017 (Jan. to Apr.) a total of 2,129 cases and four deaths (CFR = 0.19%) were reported in Tete, Nampula, and Maputo provinces.
Typically, cholera outbreaks occur during the period of Dec. – June, coinciding with the rainy season. Risk factors contributing to the propagation of cholera include a shortage of potable water and the contamination of household drinking water; these emphasise the need to improve access to clean water, adequate hygiene and sanitation.
Flooding scenarios in Mozambique have a pattern with regard to their timing and geographic locations. Flooding occurs every two to three years along the seven major river systems that cross the country, namely (from north to south), the Licungo, Zambezi, Púngue, Buzi, Save, Limpopo and Incomati rivers. The extent of flooding depends on the amount of rainfall in the country and in neighbouring countries where these rivers originate.
Floods usually happen from November to March in the southern region and from January to April in the central and northern regions.
In 2000-01, Mozambique experienced its worst flooding in 50 years, affecting over 570,000 people. Approximately 700 people were killed, 1,400 km² of arable land was affected and 20,000 herds of cattle were lost. Three rivers exceeded their banks, all in the south of the country, namely, the Incomati, Umbeluzi and Limpopo rivers.
Cases of insect infestation have been reported in crops and are recognised as a constraint to increased crop yields. According to the Government spokesperson, earlier in 2018, pests and disease sweeping through Mozambique have destroyed at least a third of the country’s agricultural crops.
Natural geological hazards such as landslides, debris and mudflows have caused, and will continue to cause, problems in Mozambique. Most events are mainly triggered by tropical cyclones that are accompanied by heavy rainfall. Earlier this year, at least 17 people were killed after heavy rain triggered a mudslide at a garbage dump in Maputo.
High Waves / Surges
Tropical cyclones frequently visit the coastal regions of Mozambique. These severe weather systems originated in the Indian Ocean and bring high winds and heavy rains, causing widespread flooding and damage to houses, roads, crops, and livelihoods. The cyclone season is from November to April with the most intense storms occurring in the period February – April.
A comprehensive cyclone early warning system was created in early 2000. The country now harnesses available satellite imagery and rainfall estimates to monitor storm tracks and impending flood conditions. An easy-to-understand, color-coded warning system has been put in place to inform citizens in advance of the arrival of the storm. Community radio stations have also proved to be effective to relay warning transmissions. Countless lives have been saved since the creation of this early-warning system.
Localised and sporadic rioting can occur, but it does not constitute a major problem.
Internally Displaced Persons
The number of refugees and asylum seekers in Mozambique has risen from 26,000 in 2015, to over 40,000 by mid-2018. Most of the refugees come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Somalia. Most refugees live in the Maratane centre, in the province of Nampula.
The cost of maintaining the refugees is very high, since most of them are dependents and have no skills. The Government, UN and other international organisations provide assistance to the refugees, and efforts are being made to endow them with skills that would enable them to generate their own income. Maratane Centre covers an area of over 2,000 hectares, some of which could be used for productive activities, notably agriculture.
Currently, 2,357 children in Maratane are enrolled in primary school and 397 in secondary education.
Landmines / UXO Present
Mozambique was considered one of the most mined countries in the world, but 25 years after its civil war ended, the Government announced late last year that the country was free from the threat of landmines meaning there are no more known minefields in the country.
For a more detailed database on disasters by country, please see the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters.
Seasonal Effects on Logistics Capacities
Seasonal Effects on Transport
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Primary Road Transport
Heavy rain and surface flooding can affect roads throughout the country. However, primary roads are the least affected and only if extreme weather conditions occur.
Secondary Road Transport
Unpaved secondary roads, several of them with drift river crossings become impassable, even with relatively small amounts of rain. However, most rivers tend to drain quickly after a few days without rain.
Railway lines usually do not suffer much during the rainy season because they are elevated and built on an embankment with drainage system. However, traffic delays may occur.
Air transport is not affected by seasonal weather. Most airports are in good condition, well paved and constructed to allow proper drainage.
Waterways have distinct seasonal variations. During the wet season they tend to become swollen and flooded and during the dry season water levels decline, making it difficult to find paths in which to navigate.
Seasonal Effects on Storage and Handling
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During the rainy season, more frequent aeration is required due to increased humidity inside warehouses. Insect infestation can increase during the rainy season.
Open-air handling of food commodities is not advisable during the wet season for obvious reasons, thus is restricted to covered loading and unloading bays.
In some cases, when transporting food from coastal areas in Mozambique and South Africa that need to cross highlands, commodities may be affected by condensation.
Capacity and Contacts for In-Country Emergency Response
The National Disasters Management Institute (INGC – http://www.ingc.gov.mz/) is the Government institution responsible for the coordination of disaster risk reduction (DRR) in Mozambique, through the implementation of measures, such as:
- Appropriate communication and information system;
- Early warning systems; and
- Development of policies, strategies, legislation and operational plans aimed at the prevention, mitigation, relief and rehabilitation of the economic and social fabric.
The National Disasters Management Institute is geared to four main areas of action, namely the coordination of:
- Prevention and mitigation of disasters;
- Development of arid and semi-arid zones;
- Emergency response; and
- Post-disaster reconstruction.
For more information on government contact details, please see the following link: 4.1 Government Contact List
With increased foreign investment and a growing national business community, the Mozambique humanitarian community is primarily focused on development.
For more information on humanitarian agency contact details, please see the following link: 4.2 Humanitarian Agency Contact List