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Cyclone Kenneth: The reconstruction begins


After the devastating cyclone, SolidarMed is assisting reconstruction efforts in the medical field.

In the immediate aftermath, SolidarMed's partners built latrines. Hygiene is essential to control the spread of cholera or typhoid fever. (Wiwanana)

Reconstruction efforts began the very first morning after the catastrophic cyclone hit. "Of course, SolidarMed was primarily concerned with quickly re-establishing basic medical services for the population after the storm. " Barbara Kruspan has lived in Pemba for the past 28 years and was a valuable mediator for the international disaster corps.

A few days later, when the rain subsided and it became possible to get an overview of the situation, SolidarMed began planning the reconstruction. But acute aid was also urgently needed. "We needed mobile clinics, our teams dug pits for latrines and we were involved in preventing and treating cholera and malaria" says Kruspan, looking back on the days after the 25th of April, when Kenneth made landfall. 

In the immediate aftermath, SolidarMed's partners built latrines. Hygiene is essential to control the spread of cholera or typhoid fever. (Wiwanana)

On the 25th of April 2019, tropical cyclone Kenneth swept over Mozambique with winds of over 200 km/h, bringing heavy rainfall.

At the end of the rainy season, the water levels in the rivers were already high and the enormous amount of rain caused extensive flooding.

Strong winds and persistent rain as a result of Cyclone Kenneth have damaged roads and other critical infrastructure - leaving some communities cut off from the rest of the country.

Huge destruction

Cyclones this far north in Mozambique are new. Until 1994, no cyclone of the severest category had been registered off the African continent's coast. This year, this force of natuer hit Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world, not once but twice!

With devastating consequences: over 374'000 houses were swept away or partially destroyed, as were at least 31'000 hectares of farming land. One reason for this is climate change. As the ocean warms, more water evaporates, the storms become more powerful and cause greater damage.

Containing the spread of diseases

There are really more than enough challenges to overcome in Mozambique even without natural disasters. Cabo Delgado sees regular cholera outbreaks and all year round, malaria poses a serious threat to infants and pregnant women. But the aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth is also an opportunity, stresses Kruspan." By ensuring the reconstruction efforts are sustainable and by working with the local authorities and our colleagues at Helvetas, we can ensure that future outbreaks of infectious diseases are contained more quickly." Proper hygiene is enormously important to prevent diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera. For this reason, washing areas for hands and feet were set up at important crossroads in recent months.

A huge effort has been made to rebuild the countless latrines destroyed by the floods. 45'000 mosquito nets were distributed to protect families from malaria. A central aspect of sucessful prevention is to make people aware of how they can protect themselves against an infection or recognise the symptoms of a life-threatening disease in time. This work is supported by Swiss Solidarity and the SDC.

SolidarMed's work in Mozambique

SolidarMed in Mozambique