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Cyclone Kenneth – what back-to-back cyclones tell us about where response resources should be focused

Apr 27, 2019


The fact that Mozambique’s already under-resourced health, education, and public works systems are further burdened by the impact of a second cyclone so soon after Idai, highlights the importance of reinforcing the resilience of these critical public institutions, before and long after any storm is on its way.


On March 14, 2019 Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique’s port city of Beira, substantially damaging ~80% of local infrastructure and leaving the two central provinces of Mozambique in a state of emergency. In the days that followed, flooding, food shortages, and lack of secure housing continued to add to the overall public health burden of the cyclone. In total, an estimated 240,000 homes were partially or totally destroyed, more than 50 health facilities substantially damaged, and ~715,000 hectares of crops affected.

On April 25, 2019–just six weeks after Idai struck–Cyclone Kenneth made landfall in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, about 800 miles north of Beira. Although initial winds were recorded as high as 140 mph, the storm’s strength declined quickly as it moved inland toward the provincial capital. Nevertheless, another 35,000 homes were partially or totally destroyed, at least 14 health facilities substantially damaged, and ~31,000 hectares of crops affected by the storm and ensuing rains and flooding throughout the region.


The burden of these two cyclones, so close in succession, on the people and institutions of Mozambique is substantial. When Kenneth hit, the emergency response plan for Idai was only funded at 23% of identified need. This on top of an existing public sector infrastructure that lacks much needed investment due to the burden of Mozambique’s ongoing loan repayments to international funding institutions like the IMF. The fact that Mozambique’s already under-resourced health, education, and public works systems are further burdened by the impact of a second cyclone so soon after Idai, highlights the importance of reinforcing the resilience of these critical public institutions, before and long after any storm is on its way.

The relief and recovery needs in Sofala and Manica Provinces remain extensive, and HAI is committed to continuing to support this region, where we have been working for decades. Nevertheless, it is expected that Cabo Delgado will face many of the same ensuing public health burdens experienced by the people of Central Mozambique. At HAI we believe that the most effective approach is a coordinated one. If you are considering contributing to Cyclone Kenneth response efforts, we highly encourage you to support locally-rooted organizations that are coordinating closely with Cabo Delgado’s Provincial Health Service, that will be around long after the cyclone hits.

Two international health organizations with an existing presence in the North that we know to be doing good work in partnership with the National and Provincial health system are:

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Our mission is to promote policies and support programs that strengthen government primary health care and foster social, economic, and health equity for all. Our vision is a just world that promotes health and well-being, including universal access to quality health care.

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Health Alliance International began in 1987 as a US-based international solidarity organization committed to supporting the public sector provision of health care for all.  Over 35 years, HAI conducted programs in 17 countries, with flagship programs in Mozambique, Côte d'Ivoire, and Timor-Leste.

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In line with HAI’s commitment to support and strengthen local public health leadership, as of October 2021, HAI fully transitioned global operations and active programs to locally-based, locally-led NGOs. Learn more about this shift toward local autonomy and equity in global health.

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