On the night between 14 and 15 March 2019, the devastating cyclone Idai struck in Mozambique, with tragic consequences in many areas of the country. In the district of Chinde, located at the mouth of the Zambezi River, the cyclone was particularly violent and caused heavy rains and numerous floods, destroying homes, infrastructure and crops.

The district is facing the delicate post-emergency recovery phase, which saw the start of the recently concluded World Food Programme’s project “FOOD EMERGENCY AFTER THE IDAI CYCLONE” (Food Assistance for Assets – FFA), in which Mani Tese participated as a partner.

The main objective of the intervention was to improve the living conditions of the population affected by the cyclone, providing basic necessities and at the same time relaunching production activities such as the construction of wells, latrines and connecting roads.

Unfortunately, this year the health emergency was added to the environmental emergency with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maria Vittoria Moretti was Country Manager in Mozambique for Mani Tese and head of the FOOD EMERGENCY AFTER THE IDAI CYCLONE project created in partnership with the World Food Programme, and she explained what has been done.

Maria Vittoria, what were the consequences and damages to the population in Mozambique of the IDAI cyclone?

“I was not yet present in the area when the IDAI cyclone hit Mozambique, but, arriving a couple of months later, I was able to see with my own eyes the devastation it created, still very evident. The affected populations have lost everything and, when “everything” did not include life, it left them without homes, without fields to cultivate, without livestock, without energy, without infrastructure or road connections and basic services and, in the areas most affected, without even access to drinking water. The situation then degenerated with diseases and infections which caused further human losses and the mobilization of various international actors who rushed to the country to support the Government in emergency and subsequently recovery operations”.

What did the aid intervention for the affected communities of the “Food emergency after Idai cyclone” project carried out in partnership with WFP consist of?

“The work carried out by the Mani Tese team in the Chinde District, one of the poorest and most isolated in the Zambezia Province, in turn one of the provinces most affected by the IDAI cyclone, was a post-emergency intervention. The action provided for a monthly delivery of food parcels (cereals, legumes and oil) in exchange for work by the beneficiaries to solve together infrastructural problems of the community: rehabilitation of bridges and roads, opening of new fields to cultivate, cleaning of channels drainage, etc…”

How was the partnership with the World Food Programme born?

“As Mani Tese we participated in the FFA 2020 call by presenting the project for the Chinde District at WFP. The project was deemed effective and so, after being awarded the tender, we immediately started working together with the WFP team based in Zambezia, providing a useful and timely response for the population”.

How many beneficiaries did the project involve and how many tons of food were distributed? Can you give us some data?

“The project started on November 20, 2019 in the town of Chinde, reaching 4000 families in 25 communities. The total number of beneficiaries directly involved in the intervention was 20,000 people.

Each of the 4000 beneficiary families received a ration consisting of 40 kg of cereals including rice and corn, 6 kg of beans and 3.75 kg of oil for 16 days of work, including training courses and awareness sessions, each month, corresponding to 267 grams of cereals, 40 grams of beans and 25 grams of oil per day per person.

There have been variations due to a shortage of food packages in the country since February, which initially entailed the reduction of the monthly ration, until its complete suspension, with the resumption of distribution in April and the extension of 2 months of project, which ended on May 31, 2020.

Before the start of the project, an assessment was carried out for the selection of beneficiaries based on the vulnerability criteria defined by the WFP together with the local government and in close collaboration with the INGC (Institute for Natural Disaster Management).

Continuous monitoring was carried out during the project”.

As for the works carried out together with the beneficiaries of the project, what were the main results?

“Among the various activities carried out with the project beneficiaries, the cleaning of three secondary roads in the district of Chinde in the community of Maguiguane, Chacuma and Matilde was carried out, the construction of a bridge with local material that will act as an evacuation route, the construction of classrooms with local materials in the community of Pambane, the installation of numerous Tipy Taps in the schools (hand washing stations, made with local and recycled materials), the reforestation of mangroves in the coastal district of Chinde”.

After COVID, how has your intervention changed? What were the consequences on the project activities?

“Following the COVID19 emergency, project activities had to be reshaped and, together with WFP, we decided to suspend the work of the beneficiary communities, implementing instead information and awareness actions on the pandemic assisted by the Chinde Health Department. The Department has assisted us during the distribution of food packages since March, supporting us in the application of the anti-COVID19 security measures imposed by the government. The government has also imposed a reduction in sea and land travel to reduce the risk of contagion within the district, but our team has had special permits to continue distribution operations”.

What were the difficulties you encountered?

“The difficulties encountered were innumerable starting from the geographical position of the district, which is isolated and with almost non-existent land and sea connections with the rest of the province. Means of transport are also limited on the island and hiring them for the distribution of materials and food has not always been easy. The obtaining of the fuel was also complex, which must be transported from the mainland since there is no service station in the Chinde district.

The district also has no electricity, which is supplied only through generators which, during thunderstorms, are often disconnected, making the telephone network disappear. You can imagine the precariousness of a district that is short of basic services, even just thinking of schools and hospitals that find themselves without electricity for long periods.

The difficulties were not limited to the district: there were also delays of days by the local transporters for the delivery of materials to Chinde, where they were then taken over by Mani Tese. We also had to deal with the loss of a food cargo due to a shipwreck!

Finally, there was the suspension of the distribution of food packages in February, which led to some problems with the beneficiaries who had already done the work for the monthly receipt of the packages. Our team, together with the local government, the INGC and the local WFP team, has always been ready, however, proving to be up to the various difficulties. A clear result from the excellent relationship we have maintained since the beginning with local institutions, very satisfied with the intervention received”.

Maria Vittoria Moretti
Maria Vittoria Moretti, Country Manager in Mozambique for Mani Tese and head of the FOOD EMERGENCY AFTER THE IDAI CYCLONE project
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