Maputo – The World Bank has announced that it has mobilised over half a billion US dollars in new resources to assist the victims of Cyclone Idai in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Idai struck the central Mozambican coast on 14 March, but much of the rain it was carrying fell on Zimbabwe and Malawi. Torrential rains in Zimbabwe flowed down the main river valleys into Mozambique, causing floods that compounded the misery of the cyclone victims.
A World Bank press release said the bank was activating the Crisis Response Window (CRW) of the International Development Association (IDA), the part of the World Bank group that provides soft loans and grants to the poorest countries, to provide US$545 million to the three countries affected by Idai.
This is in addition to US$150 million made available earlier from existing projects. This brings the total World Bank response to Idai to about US$700 million.
World Bank president David Malpass was in Mozambique last week and he visited the cyclone-ravaged city of Beira. Cited in the release, Malpass said “Cyclone Idai has caused catastrophic damage which affected millions of people, and this tragedy has been made worse by Cyclone Kenneth” (which hit the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado on 25 April).
“The World Bank Group is working in close collaboration with our partners to help the population recover from these terrible storms, to become stronger than before, and to improve countries’ resilience to natural disasters,” said Malpass.
As the country worst hit by Idai, Mozambique will receive US$350 million from the CRW. The funds are to be used to re-establish water supply in the cyclone-hit areas, rebuild public infrastructure, replace damaged crops, help prevent disease, and boost food security, social protection and early warning systems.
Malawi will receive US$120 million to restore agricultural livelihoods, rebuild priority infrastructure, and support vigilance against outbreaks of disease.
The release added that the World Bank will make “an exceptional allocation” of up to US$75 million to selected UN agencies to support the Zimbabwean victims of Idai.
The bank also announced that it was now working with Mozambique and the Comoros to assess and respond to Cyclone Kenneth.
Meanwhile, following the passage of Cyclone Kenneth last week, there has been an outbreak of cholera in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.
According to health authorities, cited by the independent television station STV, since the cyclone struck on 25 April, 14 cases of cholera have been diagnosed, mostly in the provincial capital, Pemba.
The Cabo Delgado provincial health director, Anastacia Lidimo, told reporters that 13 samples were taken in Pemba, and 11 tested positive for cholera. A further three cases of cholera were diagnosed in Mecufi district.
Lidimo said that in the accommodation centres established to shelter cyclone victims, there have been 69 cases of diarrhoeal diseases. Most of these were in the centres set up in Pemba.
Lidimo stressed that the health sector is prepared to deal with the situation. “What is happening was to be expected because there are a large number of people in the accommodation centres, and the hygiene and sanitation isn’t the best. We were already prepared to respond to this,” she said.
She added that so far no deaths have been reported, either from cholera, or from any other diarrhoeal disease.
At the weekend, life was beginning to return to normal in Macomia, the district worst hit by the cyclone. The publicly owned electricity company, EDM, had restored the power supply in Macomia town.
EDM delegate Antonio Marrunganhe, said the cyclone affected 23 kilometres of low voltage and eight kilometres of medium voltage transmission lines.
“Since Saturday, we’re managed to restore the medium voltage lines,” he said. “We’re working on the other restoration now, and soon it will all be complete.”
There is only one filling station in the district. It was damaged by the cyclone, but was now working again. One of the commercial banks, the BCI, had resumed its services at a minimal level, by providing a mobile ATM from which clients can withdraw money.