Mozambique: Cyclone Death Toll Now Almost 600

Nearly half of Cyclone Idai's victims are children.

Maputo — The confirmed death toll from cyclone Idai, which struck central Mozambique on 14 March, now stands at 598, according to the government spokesperson, the Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ana Comoana.

Since the figure announced by the relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC), on Monday was 518, an additional 80 people have been added to the death toll in just 24 hours.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, after the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), Comoana stressed that all the deaths have been confirmed by the health authorities. The sharp rise in the death toll, she said, was because more bodies are being discovered as the flood waters recede, and areas that were previously inaccessible can be reached.

Comoana added that 1,641 people are known to have been injured during the cyclone and floods. 195,287 households (slightly more than 975,000 people) are regarded as "affected" by the disaster.

As for material damage, Comoana said the latest figures are that 62,153 houses were destroyed, and a further 38,139 were damaged. 15,684 homes in the affected provinces (Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia) remain flooded.

She added that 3,344 classrooms had been destroyed, affecting over 150,000 pupils. 54 health units had also been severely damaged.

The disaster had wiped out 811,728 hectares of crops, which is a loss of 12.2 per cent of the total cultivated area in the country. As for livestock, Comoane said that 62 producers had lost 116 head of cattle, 22,000 chickens and 1,113 small ruminants.

Comoana confirmed that that in order to rebuild the devastated areas, particularly the city of Beira, the government will not only rely on domestic and external support, but will submit a corrected budget for 2019 to the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.

On Monday, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Adriano Maleiane, at a hearing with the parliamentary commission on legal and constitutional matters, said currently work is under way to quantify the needs, which will be followed by identification of sources of finance, and verification of what government programmes can be delayed without causing great problems.

"If we manage to identify the resources we need to increase expenditure, then naturally we shall go to the Assembly to propose a corrected budget", he said.

The 2019 budget, passed last December, envisaged state revenue of 249 billion meticais (about four billion US dollars at current exchange rates) and expenditure of 340 billion meticais (about 80 billion of which will have to be covered by foreign loans and grants).

But the immense damage caused by cyclone Idai has blown a hole in this budget. The cyclone has greatly reduced the likely tax revenue from the central provinces, and has added enormously to essential public expenditure Comoana said the government has approved the terms of reference of a Post-Disaster Reconstruction Programme (PREPOC). The first stage of this programme is that of immediate response, consisting of the search and rescue operations (now concluded), and the ongoing humanitarian aid to the victims.

The second phase, she said, would be emergency measures for rapid recovery, seeking to normalise the life of people in the affected areas. The third and final stage would be the reconstruction of infrastructures, and measures to recover and preserve the environment. She could not put a figure on how much this would all cost.

Comoana added that the government is preparing an international donors' conference to be held in May in Beira. She expected multilateral banks (such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank), UN agencies, cooperation partners, civil society and private business to attend the conference.

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