Maputo — Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario on Monday reiterated the government's appeal for speed in the disbursement of the aid which donors have promised for post-cyclone reconstruction.
Speaking in New York, at the opening of Fourth Special Thematic Session of the United Nations on Water and Disasters, Rosario said that quick release of the funds pledged will help ensure the effective implementation of actions to recover the social fabric and economic production in the short and medium term in those parts of Mozambique devastated by cyclones Idai and Kenneth in March and April.
The meeting is being held in response to growing concerns about the ever more damaging impacts of extreme weather events which impose on the international community the need to speed up an effective response.
Rosario said that, from 1990 to the present, Mozambique had been hit by ten cyclones. In the first quarter of this year alone, three cyclones - Desmond, Idai and Kenneth - struck the country. Idai wrecked the central city of Beira: it then moved westwards into Zimbabwe, where it unloaded huge amounts of rain that cascaded back into Mozambique along the main river valleys, adding to the misery with severe flooding in much of Sofala and Manica provinces. Six weeks later, cyclone Kenneth had a ruinous effect on coastal districts of Cabo Delgado province, particularly Ibo, Macomia and Quissanga.
Rosario said that the worst of these cyclones, Idai, claimed over 600 lives, affected 1.8 million people, and inundated over 700,000 hectares of cultivated land.
"The reconstruction needs are beyond the financial capacities of Mozambique", said the Prime Minister. "On its own, our country will not obtain the resources required to ensure sustainable and resilient reconstruction".
The government and its partners have costed the post-cyclone reconstruction needs at 3.2 billion US dollars, over a five year period. Donors promised 1.3 billion dollars at a pledging conference held in Beira on 31 May-1 June.
Rosario told the New York meeting that Mozambique needs the support of the international community. He was sure that, just as in the search and rescue phase immediately following the disasters, Mozambique would be able to count on the support of its partners.
"We hope that this meeting will help strengthen the global partnership seeking to mitigate the effects of climate change, and also the urgent need to implement the pledges made", stressed the Prime Minister.
He added that the resources granted by the international community will be channelled via a platform that involves Mozambique's cooperation partners and the post-disaster Reconstruction Office, set up by the government, in order to ensure that they are used correctly,
Rosario noted that Mozambique is highly vulnerable to climate change. It shares nine major river basins with neighbouring countries, so that, in the rainy season, large amounts of water from the upstream countries cascade into Mozambique, sometimes causing major floods. In the dry season, however, Mozambique often finds that the water is all used upstream and not enough reaches the country.
Furthermore, Mozambique's geographical location "makes it vulnerable to the development of cyclones, which have become ever more frequent and intense", said Rosario.
He called for all countries to adopt appropriate policies, and prioritise the sharing and transfer of knowledge, technologies and experiences that are relevant for handling climate change.
Also on Monday, Rosario met with the former Prime Minister of South Korea, Han Seung-Soo, who is chairperson of the High Level Panel of Experts and Leaders on Water and Disasters, one of the co-organisers of the New York meeting.