Mozambique: Children at Risk of Cholera, Malaria in Aftermath of Cyclone Freddy - Unicef

Eugenia Vasco is a woman who cultivates the land and lives with her husband and daughter.
20 March 2023

Harare — Authorities are still grappling with the magnitude of Cyclone Freddy's devastation in Malawi and Mozambique, with over 370 people verified deceased, hundreds still missing, and tens of thousands displaced.

After reaching impact in southern Africa twice, Cyclone Freddy, which formed over the Indian Ocean more than a month ago, dissipated this week.

However, Cyclone Freddy's floods, combined with the disruption of water, sanitation, and hygiene services, is fueling a sharp increase in the number of cholera cases. Since early February, the number of recorded cases has almost tripled, reaching almost 10,700, and more than 2300 cases have been reported in the previous week alone. A total of 36 districts across eight provinces of Mozambique are presently having active cholera outbreaks, with Inhambane and Zambezia, the provinces affected by Cyclone Freddy on its first and second impacts, now both declaring outbreaks.

Unicef is extremely worried about the danger of cholera as well as the possibility of a rise in malaria and other waterborne illnesses, including diarrhoea, which are among the top killers of children. Children are now even more at risk for dying and getting sick because health and nutrition services have been severely interrupted in many areas in the wake of the storm.

"We are now facing a very real risk of a rapidly accelerating cholera outbreak in Mozambique, a disease which is particularly dangerous for young children, especially those who are malnourished," Unicef Representative to Mozambique Maria Luisa Fornara said.

Meanwhile, water levels continue to rise, highlighting hydrographic basins of rivers.

Licungo in Tacuane was at (50.8mm) and Gúruè (20.4mm); Meluli in Natôa (225.3mm) and Meluli (160.7mm); Monapo in Rapale (143.0mm) and Dam Nampula (50.0mm); Rovuma in Bagarila (29.7mm), Lussanhado (28.4mm) and Mussoma (15.3mm). In the central region of the country, due to the occurrence of heavy rain in recent days, the hydrographic basins of the Licungo rivers, Raraga, Namacurra, Búzi, Púngoe and Zambezi (lower Zambezi) register a high volume of runoff with a record of flooding in communities, on agricultural fields and on socio-economic infrastructure. In the North region, the Rovuma River Basin (Lugenda River Sub-basin in Congerenge) continues to register a rise in water level hydrometer, keeping alert. The Ligonha, Melili and Lúrio basins register fluctuations in level with a tendency to rise while remaining below the alert.

In the southern region, the watersheds of the Maputo rivers in Madubula and the Limpopo rivers in Sicacate continue to register reduction of the hydrometric level, remaining above the alert level. The remaining hydrographic basins register oscillation of the hydrometric level with a general tendency to decrease, remaining below the alert level.

Unicef is helping to ensure that students rapidly recover access to education. According to estimates from the Mozambique National Institute of Disaster Risk Management (INGD), Cyclone Freddy may have devastated more than 1500 classrooms, disrupting the education of more than 134,000 pupils. None of the 1025 climate-resilient schools built with UNICEF assistance since 2019 were harmed by Cyclone Freddy, highlighting the value of spending money on climate-resilient infrastructure.

Additionally, the foundation is collaborating with local communities and allies to create more robust district and community structures that can endure the impacts of the climate catastrophe.

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