Mozambique: Severe Shortage of Funds for Housing Following Cyclones

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Maputo — The Mozambican government still faces a financial deficit to cover the costs of rebuilding about 250,000 houses that were destroyed or severely damaged by cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which struck the country in March and April.

The government's estimate for rebuilding the houses is slightly more than 600 million US dollars. But to date the government can only count on 100 million dollars (about 15 per cent of what is required), according to the director of the Post-Cyclone Reconstruction Office, Francisco Pereira, speaking on Monday at a Maputo seminar on the programme for post-cyclone accommodation.

Pereira said that most of the promises made by donors, at the pledging conference in Beira at the end of May, "were for other sectors and not specifically for housing".

The money for housing, he continued, must cover a wide range of situations - ranging from houses where the roof had blown off, to those which had been completely demolished by the cyclonic winds.

The money must also be used to repair the streets between houses, for restoring water and sanitation and, in some cases, electricity.

In some areas, particularly rural districts, said Pereira, the government has opted to finance kits of building materials, which are given to households to rebuild their homes.

The money required for housing, he explained, covered districts in Sofala ad Mania provinces hit by cyclone Idai in mid-March, and those in Cabo Delgado and Nampula struck by Kenneth in late April.

The reconstruction of damaged infrastructures other than housing, said Pereira, requires viability studies. Contractors will then be hired and it was unlikely that most of his work would begin before 2020.

For his part, the director of the World Bank in Mozambique, Mark Lundell, said that population growth plus strong rural-urban migration means that the number of people living in Mozambican cities is likely to double in the next 25 years.

Studies from the United Nations housing agency, UN-Habitat, he said, point to a deficit of 400,000 decent homes a year. About 70 per cent of urban dwellers are living in informal areas with just a basic level of infrastructures. They are living in houses built of flimsy materials, and have no title to the land they occupy.

"Rapid and resilient reconstruction of housing is of great importance for poverty reduction efforts", said Lundell, "especially for households living below the poverty line, in precarious houses in informal neighbourhoods".

The housing reconstruction needs in the affected areas greatly exceed the available resources, so Lundell stressed the importance of guaranteeing maximum impact from the funding that is available.

He said that the World Bank "will work with partners and the government towards a possible increase in the scale of reconstruction of houses following a harmonised approach and a common structure".

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