One of the worst natural disasters in Mozambique's history strikes twice
a natural disaster like Cyclone Idai or Kenneth. The first is a need for sustainable infrastructure development, and the second is the effects of climate change.
Mayor Araujo reported that there has been significant damage to wells, roads, homes, and farmland in the city of Quelimane.
The Mozambique the world knows today is relatively new. After the country liberated itself from colonialism, it was thrust into a civil war that resulted in an extended period of political and social instability. Instability halted infrastructure development that might have helped the young nation to be more resilient against natural disasters like Cyclone Idai.
Quelimane’s charismatic young mayor envisions a Quelimane in which the infrastructure is no longer an inhibitor to the city’s economic development, but a stimulant to it.
“Being a port city, a substantial investment on infrastructure development of the city could help in the creation of employment for the various youth. It will boost logistics for the inland countries of Malawi and Zambia,” Araujo said. “The development of infrastructure will stimulate more entrepreneurship in order to attend to the growth. Development of the road network will improve transportation of agricultural produce.
In order for Quelimane to continue to pursue a brighter future, it first needs help to address the current infrastructure insufficiencies that do not allow for sustainable development.
Araujo pointed to a need for a large drainage system to protect flooding-prone areas in times of heavy rains. He said the city also needs ambulances and help in reconstructing demolished roads and bridges. A more comprehensive list of the city’s immediate needs post Idai and Kenneth is attached below.
Casimiro Sande, a resilience specialist and co-founder of ARMAN group for sustainable development solutions, pointed to the need for long-term planning in order to achieve desired infrastructure goals.
“The development of sustainable infrastructure requires planning ahead to maximize the economic, financial, social and environmental benefits of those infrastructures,” Sande said.
In an interview with the BBC, Araujo echoed Sande’s sentiments, noting a financially viable infrastructure development plan as a primary obstacle to Quelimane’s economic success.
According to Sande, in order for MozamA little over a month ago, one of the strongest cyclones to ever hit the eastern coast of Africa smashed into Mozambique… twice.
First the storm hit the city of Quelimane as a tropical depression, dumping an incredible amount of water into areas prone to flooding. Then it went back out into the Atlantic Ocean and returned as a cyclone.
Beira, a port city like Quelimane and similarly vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate, was the first to be hit by Cyclone Idai. Reuters estimates over 90 percent of the city was destroyed by the storm. Cyclone Idai affected not only cities in Mozambique, but the countries of Malawi and Zimbabwe as well.
On April 25th, merely five weeks after Cyclone Idai, Mozambique was been hit again by another cyclone, the strongest in history. According to The Guardian, Cyclone Kenneth’s sustained wind strength has surpassed the previously most powerful cyclone to hit Mozambique.
According to reports from Reuters and the BBC, in the weeks after its landfall, Cyclone Idai has reduced clean water supplies due to continued flooding, caused Cholera outbreaks, the destruction of millions of acres of farmland and the subsequent displacement of millions of people
Manuel Araujo, mayor of the city of Quelimane, points to two areas that position Mozambique poorly when facing bique to experience sustainable development, it must improve its man-made infrastructure, like sewage systems, as well as its natural infrastructures, like mangroves.
Doctors Without Borders, among other organizations administering aid post Cyclone Idai, reported Cholera outbreaks due to limited supplies of clean water. Sande argues that long-term infrastructure planning can help fight back against the outbreak of waterborne illness before the fact.
“If the country, city or community is vulnerable to waterborne disease during flooding, then planning and implementing a flood protection infrastructure would be critical to reduce the impact of disease,” Sande said.
Although Mozambique is developmentally behind, compared to other nations in Africa, the country’s future is not without hope. Mozambique is notably resource rich. Reuters published an article last year detailing Exxonmobil's endeavors to corner Mozambique’s natural gas reserves. However, Sande agreed that the exploitation of these natural resources does not always benefit everyone.
Araujo told the BBC about the plentiful timber resources Quelimane has within its city. He also stated that like most natural resources in Mozambique, the rights to the timber is owned by big private corporations. These corporations make deals with the national governments that allow them to bypass city taxes. The city of Quelimane is then is forced to bear the burden of resource depletion without any of the economic benefits.
Sande sees the possibility of a future for Mozambique in which the country’s rich natural resources and agriculture capabilities benefit all and are sustainably used.
Sande and Araujo both see long-term sustainable infrastructure development as key to Mozambique becoming resilient against the effects of climate change and ensuring a more hopeful future for Mozambicans.