Emergency

Life-saving support reaches emergency hit communities

Life-saving support reaches emergency hit communities

Salomão Sitoe is fast, small and full of energy. She tears through the dry bushes on her bicycle, baby on her back, in the blazing sun. A few metres near her home she gets off the bicycle and wheels it to the front of the house. Here her husband Casimiro Machaila and her family are waiting for her under one of the many trees over hanging the yard.

A small solar panel charges in the sun a few metres away. In the house, there is a pile of old radios, televisions and mobile phones on the table. Most of it is not working; it got blown up by a generator. Casimiro connects a few wires to show us which ones are working. The only thing that comes to life is the kitchen light bulb, but that is more than enough to fill him with pride.

"I'm not an electrician, I never formally learned how to do it but I try some things out. Most of the time they work," says Casimiro.

This is not the only thing that he is grateful for. He is thankful for the mobile clinic that came and gave them food and saved his baby's life. The area where they live was ravaged by drought in the summer killing animals and vegetation; a neighbour lost their child Casimiro says. The soil resembles desert sand; parched grass and empty rivers is an indication of the severe drought.

Further evidence of hard times is in the cooking area, where a number of pots lie empty and dry around a fire that went out hours ago.

Salomão's baby, who was saved by the UNICEF-supported emergency relief team, is bright eyed, radiant and bouncing happily on her mother's lap. Salomão says even though the baby has a bit of a cold, she is pleased with her recovery.

"I am happy because we did not have to go around looking for help. I would have had to walk for a long distance because there was no money for transport," says Salomão.

Salomão Sitoe
"I am happy because we did not have to go around looking for help. I would have had to walk for a long distance because there was no money for transport" - Salomão Sitoe.

"They gave her a two week supply of nutrition packages. When the food ran out, I cooked meals according to what they taught us. It is porridge enriched with peanuts for protein, oil and sweet potatoes to vary the diet," she explains.

During the rainy season there was plenty of food, maize meal, rice and vegetables. When the vegetation dried out the family started buying food, but they soon ran out of money. They then resorted to slaughtering their animals, which they used to generate income, for food. The unemployed Casimiro also sells wood to take care of his two wives and children.

According to UNICEF's Emergency Specialist, Tito Bonde, the country finds dealing with the drought a challenge because the impact is not immediate. He believes they need a different approach.

"Historically droughts do happen in Mozambique but our system is much more responsive to quick onsets like floods and cyclones, we tend to be better prepared to address that than we are capable of dealing with slow onset disasters like drought," says Tito.

The 2015 floods had a devastating effect on the affected regions in Zambézia, Tete, Nampula and Niassa provinces. UNICEF assisted both people affected by the floods and those affected by cholera outbreaks.

"Our presence in the 2015 floods in Zambézia province was very heavy. For the first time in Mozambique, the role of provincial focal point for the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) was piloted and UNICEF led this role in Zambézia to support coordination of the humanitarian response," says Tito.

Funding is key in providing appropriate and timely assistance to alleviate suffering.

"We are talking about saving lives, we are talking about critical interventions that need to happen. The life span of an emergency is very short and if we are constrained by funds, we get to a point where we go into early recovery. Then the cycle moves on and when we get to the next emergency season, it then becomes hard because there are still unmet early recovery needs often a reflection of a deficient response. The country continues in a cycle of increased vulnerability" adds Tito.

UNICEF's Emergency Specialist, Tito Bonde
"We are talking about saving lives, we are talking about critical interventions that need to happen. The life span of an emergency is very short and if we are constrained by funds, we get to a point where we go into early recovery. Then the cycle moves on and when we get to the next emergency season, it then becomes hard because there are still unmet early recovery needs often a reflection of a deficient response. The country continues in a cycle of increased vulnerability" - UNICEF's Emergency Specialist, Tito Bonde.

"Despite this huge financial challenge, we continue to work and provide support within Nutrition and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene interventions. The country's political environment adds a further layer of complexity," Tito says.

There have been reports of renewed conflicts in some parts of the country and this makes it hard for UNICEF employees and partners to access those areas.

Water Sanitation and Hygiene

KEY ACHIEVEMENTS

  • UNICEF supported line Ministries and Programmes to strengthen institutional capacity for emergency preparedness and response
  • In 2015 UNICEF appeal US$2.5 million for Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) but received US$900 000
  • The 2016 El Niño drought response is 30 per cent funded. The Humanitarian Country Team requires US$238 million to deliver life-saving interventions
  • UNICEF leads the Nutrition and WASH interventions of the El Niño drought response and requires $8.8 million to meet needs.
Water Sanitation and Hygiene

PARTNERS

  • DFID
  • Kid Power
  • ONE UN FUND
  • Government of Belgium
  • Government of Sweden