Donors pledged $1.2 billion to rebuild cyclone-battered Mozambique over the weekend, the United Nations Development Programme announced on Sunday.
International organizations, private sector organizations, and development partners committed to supporting the country during a two-day International Conference of Donors held in the Mozambique city of Beira over the weekend.
“This is the moment to translate into concrete gestures our solidarity with a country affected by one of the worst weather-related catastrophes in African history — and which also warns us about the urgency of tackling climate change,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement, addressing conference attendees.
Mozambique was first hit by one of its worst cyclones in decades, Idai, in March, followed by Cyclone Kenneth just six weeks later. The natural disasters claimed over 600 lives and displaced nearly 2 million people.
The cyclones separated hundreds of families, destroyed thousands of classrooms, keeping hundreds of thousands of children out of school, and obliterated close to 2 million acres of farmland, leaving well over 1.5 million people in need of food.
The UN has offered its support since the early stages of the cyclones’ aftermath, working to coordinate additional international aid, as well as providing food, water, medicine, and shelter to the large population in need. However, lack of funding continues to hinder aid delivery, according to Guterres.
“The means at our disposal are not at all enough. We face enormous challenges: people’s basic needs remain unmet; the risk of disease outbreaks is evident; and the negative impact on food security due to the loss of crops will be very significant,” he said.
Immediately after the devastating impact of Cyclone Idai, the UN launched an appeal for $282 million in aid funding, but officials are now saying that the cost to rebuild severely damaged provinces like Sofala, Manica, Tete, Zamberzia, Inhambane Nampula, and Cabo Delgado is closer to $3.2 billion.
“There is a need to ‘build back better,’ to look at infrastructure, resilience of communities in a different way. This is what this conference is all about, over and above requesting the solidarity of the international community to fund the reconstruction,” Noura Hamladji, UNDP Africa Bureau regional director, said.
More than 700 groups participated in the conference, including UN agencies, the European Union, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank, pledging both financial and technical resources.
The UNDP also said that, along with its partners, it will work with the government to ensure transparency and accountability throughout the reconstruction process, in addition to external audits that will be regularly performed.
As the country and its neighbors work to rebuild, it also aims to minimize the damage of future disasters that are likely to visit the region again.
"This recovery needs to be resilient," Hamladji said this weekend. "Mozambique is prone to climate-change disasters, and those cyclones were not a one-time event unfortunately and the probability of these disasters reoccurring, many times in the future, is very high."