Before Cyclone Idai swept through Mozambique in March 2019, Cecília lived in a mud house in a flood area with her four children and three orphan nephews. She worked in agriculture and sold her produce to generate income. But after one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit the southern hemisphere, which affected 1.8 million people and claimed hundreds of lives, she had to start over.
“I lost my house and documents due to the cyclone. I had no money, and nowhere to live. I had to figure out how to go on with my life,” she says.
Cecília and the children first moved to the Mandruzi resettlement site. “At that time, the important thing for me was that the place was safe, and we would have our own space, where we could stay,” Cecília said, after she and her family were shuttled between schools and temporary shelters.
Two years later, Cecília and her children will live in cement house for the first time. The UNDP Recovery Facility, through the Mozambique Recovery Facility (MRF), in coordination with Government’s Reconstruction Cabinet, and with funds from the European Union, Canada, China, Finland, India, the Netherlands and Norway, is supporting her and her family by building a new house and offering ways for community members to make money.
Mozambique is on the frontlines of climate change and Cecília’s new house is built to withstand natural disasters. She has been following the construction from the beginning. “I see the materials they use, and I can see a big difference.”
One hundred and sixty houses are being built in Mandruzi, mostly for the elderly, single mothers, and people with disabilities or chronic diseases. The reinforced roofs and windows are made by local bricklayers and artisans under the supervision of engineers and technicians.
The lesson for the community on how to build stronger houses is a necessity. From 2019 to 2021, four cyclones hit Mozambique, each of them causing loss of life and damage to infrastructure and essential services.
It’s estimated that by 2100, the world’s poorest countries could experience up to 100 more days of extreme weather due to climate change each year, and Mozambique is one of the ten countries with the lowest human development.
These storms came to bother us, and you never know what might happen, but the community now knows how to prepare and is building stronger houses,” Cecília says.
More than 1,100 homes, schools and markets, are being built or rehabilitated by the Recovery Facility in Sofala province, in central-eastern Mozambique. At least 15,000 people will directly benefit from this initiative. Access roads and drainage ditches are also being built, providing the local community with work, as well as better infrastructure.
Cecília is also building the work skills to support her family.
“I am both a mother and a father to them,” she says. “I have to work so they don’t feel bad because they are missing something.”
She received an agricultural kit of seeds and tools and a duck rearing kit; participated in village savings and loan associations; and engaged in cleaning drainage ditches in the neighbourhood and in building the community’s waste management and treatment centre.
She learned how to produce organic fertilizer and took courses in entrepreneurship and tailoring.
She planted rice, corn and sweet potato in her garden, and flowers and other vegetables in the community plots, using the fertilizer she produced. At the same time her ducks have begun laying eggs.
Amid this, she was able to finish her studies in basic education, in the same school that sheltered her during Cyclone Idai. She is now equipped to potentially become a community leader.
“I would like to mobilize and sensitize other people, neighbours, so that they do not lose hope. Everything is a process. Where there is life, there is hope,” she says.