Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation
A vicious spiral Mozambique is prone to natural disasters, including cyclones, floods, persistent drought and earthquakes. These events have a dramatic impact on the lives of children and women, many of whom already suffer from chronic vulnerability due to food insecurity, HIV and AIDS, health epidemics and inadequate access to social services.
Rapid onset emergencies such as cyclones or floods damage schools, health clinics, roads, bridges and homes, further limiting people’s access to basic services and in some cases causing displacement.
Every year, hundreds of thousands children, women and men, especially those living in the drought-affected areas of southern and central Mozambique, are affected by food insecurity, which leads to increased hunger and malnutrition.
Traditional coping mechanisms of relying on extended family during times of drought have been stretched by the AIDS pandemic, creating a vicious spiral of illness, destitution and food insecurity.
Girls and young women risk becoming involved in commercial sex work to survive, which exposes them to sexually transmitted illnesses such as HIV infection.
During times of drought, susceptibility to other infectious diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea is increased when wells dry up and people resort to drinking contaminated water. For those living with HIV and AIDS, this can spell disaster as people’s fragile immune systems collapse and the progression towards death hastens.
Responding to disaster
UNICEF emergency response activities are integrated into the different components of the Country Programme to address the needs of chronically vulnerable children and women particularly affected by persistent drought conditions. These include support to the Government and other partners in addressing chronic and acute malnutrition, malaria, water borne diseases, cholera outbreaks, emergency education activities, among others.
UNICEF has an internal Emergency Preparedness and Response plan which focuses on preparedness and response strategies for rapid onset emergencies; these planning scenarios include the possibility of earthquakes, cyclones and floods.
UNICEF forms part of the Mozambique United Nations Disaster Management Team which works with the Government of Mozambique to strengthen national capacity to prepare for, respond to and mitigate the damage of both rapid onset emergency situations and slow onset chronic emergency needs.
In the same spirit, UNICEF and other partners support the government’s National Strategic Plan for Natural Disasters Prevention and Mitigation and works with the National Institute for Disaster Management to strengthen national capacity to prepare for, respond to and mitigate the impact of natural disasters.
Mechanisms like the Vulnerability Assessment Committee and the Food Security and Household Nutrition Survey help to identify chronically vulnerable populations who will be particularly affected when natural disaster conditions worsen, allowing the Government and its partners to adequately plan, prepare and respond to the needs of these populations.
At provincial, district and community levels, the capacity of authorities and communities is strengthened to deliver emergency relief when another natural disaster exacerbates already tenuous development conditions.