International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Mobile team leader in the provincial capital Beira, Cesaltino Vilanculo, who is helping hundreds of families evacuate from unsafe temporary settlements to two accommodation centres says, “the people are scared.”
At the moment, almost 160 IOM staff in central Mozambique are working to prepare local communities for the imminent arrival of Cyclone Eloise, which is currently packing winds of at least 150 km/h.
Eloise was expected to make landfall in Beira late on Friday or early Saturday. By mid-afternoon shops across the city were closed and flooded streets, empty.
IOM personnel were responding immediately with specialists in camp coordination and management, shelter, the distribution of non-food items, health and protection services and data mapping under IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM).
The Port of Beira was set to close on Friday for a period of about 40 hours in expectation of dangerous winds and rain from the afternoon of January 22 through the morning of January 24. Beira is the main entry point for goods bound for north coastal Mozambique.
A limited supply of emergency non-food items had been stockpiled in Beira, including tarps and water tanks. However, resources are stretched, as IOM is actively responding to the crisis across Northern Mozambique.
At the same time, over 900 people are already displaced in Beira City due to recent heavy rains and the impact of Tropical Storm Chalane, which hit nearby Sofala Province on last December 30.
“The government is working, identifying the safe places to bring the people who are most vulnerable”, explained Aida Temba, a protection project assistant with IOM Mozambique.
“The rain is coming, and the water is rising and it’s not easy to reach all the people who need assistance. But we do our best to respond.”
Hundreds of families were evacuated to two accommodation centres, sheltered in tents provided by Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction (INGD).
One accommodation centre was at the weekend closed, in favour of moving families to schools, which provide more stable structure. Those families’ needs include food, potable water, hygiene kits and soap.
IOM Mozambique also has reported that due to heavy rainfall and the discharge of water from the Chicamba dam and the Mavuzi reservoir—both in the Buzi District west of Beira—over 19,000 people have been affected and hundreds are being moved to accommodation centres. Their needs include food, hygiene kits, and COVID-19 prevention materials.
IOM staff are supporting the government of Mozambique with the movements in both Beira and Buzi and actively working to improve drainage ways in resettlement sites in preparation for further rains.
IOM’s DTM, working jointly with Mozambique’s INGD, is poised to produce a report on displacement and damages within the first 72 hours of the cyclone’s arrival.
Tropical storms historically are common in these early months of rainy season. Cyclone Idai struck the country in March 2019.
It is considered one of the worst tropical cyclones to hit Africa on record, claiming hundreds of lives, and affecting three million people across wide swaths of Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe. A second powerful storm, Cyclone Kenneth, hit Mozambique just weeks later.
Total property damages from Cyclone Idai have been estimated at some $2.2 billion. Almost two years later, roughly 100,000 people remain in resettlement sites, which also have been battered by the recent rains.