Mozambique's already faltering economy has been hit by two natural disasters in recent months. Tendai Marima examines the human and financial cost
Joseph William Singidi, 52, chisels a door knob made from ebony wood in Sao Joao Baptista Fortress, a star-shaped 16th century fort on Mozambique's Ibo Island. Rehabilitated in 2017 by the government to boost tourism, the fort is home to a number of community projects. But since Cyclone Kenneth battered the northern Quirimbas archipelago in April, business has been slow. Ibo's 5,000 residents have gone without steady electricity and water supplies for over a month. Businesses face an uphill road to recovery, a story that is repeated in thousands of communities across the region, where over 2m people have been impacted by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth.
The roof of Singidi's home was ripped off by the tropical storm, and he fears his business could face an extended lean period as tourists stay away from an island renowned for its white sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters.
"This should be the peak season for me, but I don't think I'll see much business until December. I don't know how I will fix the roof of my house. I have a plastic sheet to protect us from the rain, but it cannot last," he says.
For many towns near Mozambique's coastline, the damage has been extensive. Rubble from houses and buildings litters the landscape from the remote northern province of Cabo Delgado to the central Sofala region, where the even stronger Cyclone Idai destroyed hospitals, schools, roads and drinking wells.
According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Southern Africa region may have lost infrastructure worth more than a billion dollars following Cyclone Idai, which lashed Mozambique, Malawi, Madagascar and Zimbabwe in March. Still reeling from that storm, northern Mozambique then faced the wrath of Cyclone Kenneth, which also battered Comoros and southern Tanzania. In Mozambique, the cyclone left more than 45 dead in its trail, bringing the number of deaths caused by the two storms to nearly 650. The true extent of the double blow remains unknown.
At a conference held in June in Beira, which suffered extensive damage in March, international donors pledged $1.2bn to assist with recovery efforts in the areas worst hit by Idai and Kenneth. Although funds offered by Mozambique's development partners will support humanitarian recovery efforts, the country also has to deal with lost...