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The natural disaster in southern Africa, which struck in mid-March 2019, left a trail of destruction in its wake and triggered devastating storm surges and flooding. In Mozambique alone, Cyclone Idai killed more than 600 people as it battered the country with wind speeds of up to 200 km/h and destroyed everything: houses, roads, fields. 500,000 people lost their homes.
In the Manica region, half a million hectares of agricultural land were destroyed just before the harvest. The fact that most people depend on smallholder farms has led to severe food insecurity until today.
More than three yeasr after the cyclone, many people were still struggling to make ends meet. Other disasters such as floods, new cyclones ('Chalane' and 'Eloise' in January 2021) and droughts made it even more difficult for them to build sustainable livelihoods and food security. Agricultural production decreased significantly after cyclone Idai. Reasons for this include pests and diseases that destroy crops. Soils are depleted because sand and mud have accumulated. Changing rainfall patterns caused by climate change further exacerbate the situation.
Caritas Switzerland responded immediately after the disaster and distributed food, tents, cooking utensils, clothing, school materials and agricultural tools. As a result, its relief effort reached 3500 people.
Technical assistance and market access
In the second phase, until September 2021, Caritas Switzerland and her local partner Caritas Chimoio helped some 1600 people in the Dombe region to rebuild secure livelihoods. Caritas experts helped the communities to draw up long-term land-use plans. Farmers are now planting in higher-lying areas where the fields are safe from flooding. Caritas taught the farmers sustainable farming methods. It distributed local seeds and offering technical support. It also helped farming families to improve their access to local markets.
Better food security
In order to further improve living conditions and sustainably strengthen the resilience of the local population, Caritas Switzerland and Caritas Chimoio are supporting smallholder families in Manica province until today. Seed production systems are being set up. In training courses, the participants learn how to better conserve seeds, process food and grow vegetables. They also improve their know-how about healthy, balanced nutrition. The farmers are further supported in the construction of irrigation systems, water tanks and granaries. To diversify their income and become less dependent on climatic conditions, selected families are given beehives to produce honey. Tree planting and workshops on the management of resources such as forests or soil help people to better adapt to climate change. With this project, the food security of around 1330 families will be improved by the end of 2022.
Cheia Vanilla was born on 15 March 2019 – on the evening when Cyclone Idai swept across her home in Mozambique. Her father Fernando had just cut the umbilical cord with a piece of reed when the water in the hut rose rapidly. Fernando and his wife Gloria immediately had to scramble to safety. In the floods, Gloria lost her footing and just managed to lift the baby up. Fernando – who was already in the branches of a mango tree – succeeded in catching the girl in time and pull Gloria out of the water. Fernando and Gloria called their child ‘Cheia’, because during the birth, everything was ‘cheia de agua’ – ‘full of water’.