Published on Nasikiliza

The Faster Mozambique Rebuilds After Cyclones, the Better it Limits Their Devastating Impact on the Economy

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Widespread damage from previous Cyclone Idai. Photo: World Bank Widespread damage from previous Cyclone Idai. Photo: World Bank

It is a well-established fact that due to its geography, Mozambique is highly exposed to extreme weather events, such as cyclones and flooding. As 60% of its population lives along the country's long coast, where the largest cities are located, cyclones and ensuing flooding inflict immense damage on crucial infrastructure that millions depend on, crippling the country's economy.

Such was the case of Tropical Cyclone Freddy, the latest in a string of many affecting the country recently. Freddy hit the country twice between late February and early March 2023, affecting 10 of the country’s 11 provinces, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, and triggering a health crisis with a spike in water-borne diseases such as cholera. The cyclone affected a staggering 1.18 million people, displaced almost 192,000, and killed 183. It also destroyed 132,000 homes, over 123 health facilities, and 1,200 schools, affecting about 230,000 students.

Damages to schools, roads, bridges, energy, and water treatment facilities have huge repercussions on the economy, eroding hard-won gains in a fiscally constrained environment. Severe weather events damage crops, destroy livelihoods and homes, and causes unwarranted deaths.  Inevitably, these extreme weather events hinder economic growth, slow per capita income growth, exacerbate inequality, and entrench fragility.

The question is, what can we do about it? The increasingly frequent and severe climate shocks affecting Mozambique leave no other option but to increase the country’s resilience and capacity to adapt in the medium to long term, especially considering that a warming planet means more of (not less of) such phenomenon. It is also critical for Mozambique to prepare for and respond to climate-induced emergencies right after they occur. Take roads, for example. The faster they are rebuilt after cyclones, the quicker the economy recovers. Roads connect people, allow economic activity to resume, and people to access markets and services. 

We at the World Bank are committed to helping build that needed resilience. To assist the country in getting back on its feet, the World Bank has made available $150 million in record time in response to Mozambique's call for support to the cyclone Freddy emergency response. Moreover, this is the largest assistance envelope Mozambique received from a single development partner to date in response to this cyclone. Our funds are available immediately and can be used to rebuild and repair critical infrastructure, alleviating the hardships facing the poor and most vulnerable, who bear the brunt of such crises.

Specifically, our financing will support emergency repair and rehabilitation works and support rural livelihoods. These are some of the critical investments:

  • Repair and repositioning of rural roads, bridges, and drainage structures.
  • Rehabilitation of urban roads, bridges, and drainage structures in affected municipalities, including Maputo and Quelimane.
  • Purchase and distribution of agriculture kits such as seeds, but also tools needed to prepare the soil and sow the seeds to affected farmers.
  • Repair and repositioning of water supply systems and water sources.
  • Emergency repair of dikes, repositioning and installation of critical equipment in the affected dams.
  • Repositioning of damaged hydrological monitoring network.
  • Emergency replacement of roofs of targeted education infrastructure.
  • Provision of temporary health units, medicines, and medical equipment
  • Repair and repositioning of powerline transport network and equipment

These World Bank funds directly responded to the Government of Mozambique's preliminary damage assessment, which estimated emergency needs at $150 million. The amount, mostly a non-reimbursable grant, is coupled with soft credit sourced from the existing World Bank portfolio through a strategic reallocation that enables the withdrawal of $150 million from ongoing World Bank-funded projects, under the Contingent Emergency Response Components (CERCs).

More information:


Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough

Country Director, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros and Seychelles

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