At least 28 people have died and more than 58,800 have been affected by heavy rains and flooding in Mozambique, with Zambezia, Cabo Delgado and Sofala provinces hardest-hit.
The Government of Mozambique declared an Orange Alert on 28 December 2019 due to strong winds and heavy rains in the central and northern regions of the country.
Several key bridges have been damaged, including the bridge over the Montepuez River on road N380 in Cabo Delgado, cutting off people in surrounding areas from essential services and assistance.
Chipembe Dam, in Cabo Delgado, is now at 100 per cent capacity and having daily uncontrolled over spill.
In the last 24 hours, water levels have started to rise across Sofala Province, mainly in Beira City, Buzi and Nhamatanda districts, all of which were affected by Cyclone Idai in March 2019.
Since December 2019, Mozambique has experienced strong rains, winds and flooding, affecting at least 58,851 people, in Zambezia (17,432), Cabo Delgado (13,169 people), Sofala (6,328), Niassa (5,150), Nampula (4,915), Gaza (4,806), Maputo City (2,927), Manica (1,684), Tete (1,480) and Maputo (960), according to the National Disaster Management Institute (Instituto Nacional de Gestão de Calamidades, INGC). More than 10,200 houses have been damaged or destroyed, including 2,589 completely destroyed, and at least 47 schools have been affected. At least 28 people have died, and 66 have been injured, since the storms began, according to INGC.
In Zambezia, the province with the highest number of people affected, flooding since the beginning of 2020 has damaged infrastructure, destroyed crops and led to displacement. Nearly 2,300 hectares of crops are currently flooded across the province, less than two months before the planned March harvest. On 5 January, the electrical system of the water treatment plant in Maganja da Costa District was damaged. According to the INGC, water points have also been damaged, especially in neighbourhoods in Namacurra District where people were resettled after Cyclone Idai. In Maganja da Costa and Nicoadala districts, more than 180 shelters were swept away in the resettlement sites in the first week of January, and at least 290 latrines were destroyed, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), increasing the risk of communicable diseases.
In Cabo Delgado, which has been one of the hardest-hit provinces, strong winds and heavy rains on 28 December 2019 caused flooding across eight districts and damaging the province’s infrastructure: 59 electricity poles fell down; and several bridges were damaged, most notably the bridge over Montepuez river on road N380. Although 80 per cent of damaged electric poles have already been rehabilitated, five districts (Muidumbe, Mueda, Nangade, Palma and Mocimboa da Praia) remain without electricity, hampering access to safe water in these areas. Livelihoods were also impacted in the province, with 40 boats destroyed and 21 damaged, affecting 1,220 fishermen in the coastal districts. About 4,000 hectares of agriculture land were flooded. About 51 metric tonnes (MT) of maize and 25 MT of beans will be required to replace the lost produce in the second agricultural season. According to the water management authorities, Chipembe Dam (near Balama) is now at 100 per cent capacity and having daily uncontrolled over spill. Some of the areas hardest-hit by floods in Cabo Delgado, including Quissanga District, were still recovering from Tropical Cyclone Kenneth, which struck the province in April 2019. The floods may also heighten the needs of the estimated 60,000 people displaced or otherwise affected by violence in the province since October 2017.
In Sofala Province, heavy rains have caused flash and riverine floods since December 2019, impacting some of the areas hardest-hit by Cyclone Idai in March last year, including neighbourhoods where people were resettled after the cyclone. Several roads are impassable and access to remote villages in Buzi District is very limited. There are reports that people who need medical assistance are not able to access Buzi Town. According to IOM, over 3,676 shelters in the resettlement sites across Sofala have been damaged, including nearly 500 that were completely destroyed, following heavy rains on 10 December. In addition, 300 latrines were damaged and the clinics in Metuchira and Kura resettlement sites, Nhamatanda District, were swept away by the floods. In the last 24 hours, water levels have started to rise across Sofala, mainly in Beira City, Buzi and Nhamatanda districts, increasing the risk of flooding. In Beira, around 300 people sheltered in three different schools during the night of 20 January as their houses were flooded, according to INGC. The majority went back home on 21 January, as the water receded, but about 10 families are still in the Matadouro School, in Beira. In Buzi, 48 people had to be evacuated from risky areas on 20 January to temporary accommodation centres.