AP/Vatican News English Africa Service – Vatican City
The death toll from Cyclone Kenneth in northern Mozambique jumped to 38, the government announced on Monday. Just as most of the more than 600 deaths from last month’s Cyclone Idai were caused by flooding in the days that followed, heavy rains in the wake of Kenneth have raised fears of a similar scenario.
More rain and winds of up to 280 kph
Cyclone Kenneth hit the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado late on Thursday, flattening entire villages with winds of up to 280 kph (174 mph).
It is the first time in recorded history that Mozambique has been hit by two Cyclones within a matter of weeks. Cyclone Kenneth is said to be the strongest to hit this region of Mozambique in living memory.
There is concern over the fact that Cyclone Kenneth will cause twice as much rain as Cyclone Idai. Weather forecasts were predicting that as much as 508 mm (20 inches) of rain would fall in parts of the province over the weekend. In comparison, the town of Pemba typically receives a fraction of this rain in the month of April.
160 000 people at risk of Cyclone Kenneth
A Monday assessment by Aid experts confirmed that the incessant rains continued throughout the weekend causing massive flooding and destruction. Some residents of Pemba, spoken to by news agencies, said they had never seen so much rain.
AP further reports that more than 160,000 people are at risk, with more torrential rain forecast in the coming days.
The Government of Mozambique described the situation as “critical” in other centres of Cabo Delgado province which are unreachable by road. The towns of Ibo, Macomia and Quissanga have been badly flooded and many buildings and homes destroyed. Most roads are impassable from the flooding, and the heavy rains have made air contact, even by Helicopter, difficult.
Aid workers trying to reach hard-hit communities outside Pemba on Sunday were forced to turn back by rivers that burst their banks, with floodwaters reaching the roofs of nearby houses. It was not clear when aid to scores of thousands of people outside the city could be delivered.
Risks: lack of safe drinking water and disease
Safe drinking water is already a challenge as wells have been contaminated, raising the threat of cholera. Malaria is another concern.
The United Nations said, Sunday, it will give Mozambique and the Comoros Islands a grant of $13 million in emergency funds to help provide food and water and repair damage to infrastructure.
The World Bank estimates that Mozambique and other countries affected by the tropical storms will need over $2 billion to recover.
Disquiet about an IMF credit facility to Mozambique
Earlier in April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted Mozambique a $118.2 million credit facility. Reacting to the loan announcement, Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, is quoted in the Online bulletin, ekklesia, as saying, “It is a shocking indictment of the international community that a country as impoverished as Mozambique has to borrow from international institutions in order to cope with the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai. Emergency grants should be available to all impoverished countries in response to disasters like Idai, especially those linked to the climate breakdown primarily caused by richer countries in the global North.”
Mozambique is considered one of the most indebted countries in the world particularly after the government admitted in 2016 to have engaged in billions of dollars of undisclosed borrowing. The alleged fraud of $2 billion loans led to the arrest of some government officials and some international bankers.