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Droughts in Mozambique are 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 centre region and 5-7 years in the southern region.
Prolonged dry spells can easily lead to drought conditions, particularly in remote areas where agriculture is still much dependent on rain. According to FAO, droughts in Mozambique will be more common in 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 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, constituting 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 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 went down 33% in the same period, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
Cholera has always been present in Moçambique. During the period 1992 – 2004, notified 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 contamination of household drinking water, which emphasize the need to improve access to clean water, adequate hygiene, and sanitation.
Flooding scenarios in Moçambique have a pattern with regard to their timing and geographic locations. It occurs every two to three years along the seven major river systems that cross the country, namely (from north to south): 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, Moçambique 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: Incomati, Umbeluzi and Limpopo rivers.
In January 2013, heavy rains have hit southern Provinces of Mozambique and neighbouring countries. This resulted in massive flood across the Limpopo basin in Gaza Province and, consequently leaving 97 fatalities and 213,000 affected people in need.
Cases of insect infestation have been reported in crops and is 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 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 harness 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.
Between March and April 2019, Centre and north of Moçambique was hit by two subsequent CAT 4 tropical cyclones, Idai and Kenneth.
Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall in the central province of Sofala near Beira city. The cyclone brought torrential rains and high winds to the Sofala and surrounding provinces, as well as to the eastern Zimbabwe’ provinces. This resulted also in flash flooding destruction of livelihoods and proprieties, as well as lifting more than 600 people dead and affecting approximately 1.85 million people in Mozambique alone. Tropical cyclone Kenneth made its landfall in the north Province of Cabo Delgado. With wind gusts up to 220km/h, it was considered the strongest cyclone ever hit the African continent. It left 374,000 people in need and three deads.
Localised and sporadic rioting can occur but it does not constitute a major problem.
Internally Displaced Persons
Since October 2017, the Islamic State-linked group Ansar al-Sunna, also known locally as Al-Shabab or *mashababos *(the local popular name for Al-Shabab), has attacked villages, killed more than 2,500 people, and destroyed property and infrastructure, including schools and health centers, in Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique. Since April 2020 and following an escalation in violence, more than 826,000 people have been displaced.
The number of refugees and asylum seekers in Mozambique has risen from 26,000 in 2015 to over 40,000 in 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 generation of 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 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 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 usually 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 good 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 being 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.
The National Disasters Risk Reduction Management Institute (INGD – 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:
The INGD is geared to four main areas of action, namely the coordination of:
For more information on government contact details, please see the following link: 4.1 Government Contact List.
Since the early days after independence, Mozambique has been a destination for many humanitarian agencies because of the extent of the humanitarian and relief work required after the colonial war. It became even more so when the tension raised very high in late 70’s and subsequent civil war and acts of sabotage that disrupted the economic activity in the country. With the peace agreement in early 90’s the focus of the humanitarian assistance could finally begin to shift to development. Nowadays Mozambique is well into a different stage of social and economic development with increased foreign investment and a growing national business community increasingly well prepared and stronger that can and do contribute to the welfare of the population as well.
For more information on humanitarian agency contact details, please see the following link: 4.2 Humanitarian Agency Contact List.