7 November 2012

Mozambique: Government Briefs Assembly On Contingency Plan

Maputo — The Mozambican government’s Contingency Plan for the 2012-2013 rainy and cyclone season envisages three possible scenarios, in which the number of people at risk from natural disasters ranges from just over 300,000 to just under a million.

Briefing the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic on the Contingency Plan on Wednesday, the Minister of State Administration, Carmelita Namashalua, said that the first scenario for the current rainy season, which runs until March 2013, envisages storms bringing inundations to Mozambican cities, and a medium risk of both floods and drought in various parts of the country. The number of people at risk in this scenario is put at about 307,500.

The second scenario adds a high risk of floods and the occurrence of cyclones with wind speeds of up to 160 kilometres an hour. The would bring the number of people at risk up to 519,000.

The third, and worst case scenario envisages cyclones with wind speeds in excess of 160 kilometres an hour, and the possibility of earthquakes. The number of people at risk under this scenario would reach 987,000.

Namashalua said that the government is prepared for these various possibilities. “The government and its cooperation partners have pre-positioned, at strategic places, materials and equipment for search and rescue operations, and for humanitarian interventions in general”, she said.

The resources at the government’s disposal were meagre, she added, and certainly inadequate to respond to a disaster on the scale of the third scenario, “but we believe that the solidarity that has always characterized the Mozambican people in moments of crisis will prevail”.

The government had written into the 2013 state budget (due to be approved by the Assembly in December) a sum of 120 million meticais (about 4.1 million US dollars) to guarantee the pre-positioning, alerts for those in imminent danger, search and rescue, and humanitarian aid for those in need.

“The main strategy adopted by the government in managing and reducing disaster risk is prevention”, said Namashalua. “The experience of recent years shows that the adoption of preventive measures has contributed substantially to reducing the need for reactive actions in moments of emergency”.

Droughts, floods and cyclones do not choose their victims according to which political parties they support. “We are all affected equally”, the Minister said.

Furthermore, climate change is exacerbating the frequency and intensity of disasters. “So each of us must play a role in ensuring that disasters cause less human and material damage in our country”, she added, “and we must work to turn the occurrence of disasters into opportunities for development actions”.

Namashalua noted that the resettlement areas set up on high ground in 2007 and 2008, after major floods on the Zambezi and other rivers in central Mozambique, now house some 26,000 households “who previously used to live in flood-prone areas”.

She praised “the active, voluntary and unpaid work of communities in the Local Disaster Risk Management Committees”. 760 of these bodies have been set up in the areas considered most at risk.

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