Tropical cyclone Funso tests emergency preparedness in Mozambique
MAPUTO, Mozambique, 27 January 2012 – In the course of two weeks in January, Mozambique was hit by tropical storm Dando and tropical cyclone Funso, which left significant structural damage in their wake and led to a total of 25 deaths. The two weather events, which followed in rapid succession, caused significant rainfall leading to flooding in many coastal areas.
At the 3rd of February village north of Maputo, a 60-80 meter stretch of the main north-south highway was washed away by the torrential Incomati river, disrupting all overland transport of goods and people from Saturday to the following Tuesday. Bus passengers and other travelers stranded on the road either had to return to where they came from or were offered the option of crossing the river in small boats.
Many coastal cities, including Maputo and Quelimane, experienced flooded streets and destroyed houses, whereas rural districts like Pebane and Maganja da Costa in Zambezia province saw major damage to schools, dwellings, roads and cultivated land caused by the category four cyclone Funso. The worst damage occurred in the Zambezia district of Nicoadala, where 66 houses collapsed, killing two people and seriously injuring three others. The storm swamped Quelimane, causing flooding in almost all the city’s neighborhoods, and in some cases the swirling waters have made it impossible to move from one neighborhood of the city to the next. Low lying neighborhoods in Beira, the provincial capital of Sofala, were also flooded, causing people to seek higher ground or moving in with relatives living in safer areas.
Overall, the response was swift, although some of the relief work was hampered by road access problems and continued bad weather. As soon as Dando, the first tropical depression, hit land, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) kicked into operation, organizing the emergency response to both storms and coordinating relief efforts. The emergency response in Mozambique is organized in ‘clusters’, each of which addresses a key area of response, such as health, education or water and sanitation. Each cluster is led by one of the organizations engaged in the response. By organizing the response through the clusters, coordination is improved and unnecessary overlap reduced, leading to a more efficient and effective response.
In comparison with other natural disasters in recent years, the impact of the two tropical weather events in January was limited and to some extent manageable. While tropical cyclone Funso was of significant force, it remained for the most part at sea, over the Mozambique Channel, thus limiting any devastation caused on land. Together, Dando and Funso proved that the emergency preparedness and response system is functioning and ready to step into action when needed.
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