ABSTRACT Mozambique is a country with an area of 799,380 sq. km and a coastline of 2, 800 km long. Its climate is tropical and sub-tropical with a GDP per capita of USD210 in 2002. This is a setback if one consider the steady gross of the Mozambican economy in the recent years, particulary in the agricultural sector were from less than 500,000 ton of cereal productions in 1992 it was recorded 1.7 million tons of cereals in 2002.
An integrated and effective Early Warning System is an direct consequence of the country’s high disaster vulnerability due to its geographic profile. The available date show the cyclical hazards such as floods, cyclones and droughts with severe social and economical consequences. The most significant of these disasters related to those hazards occurred in 1981-1984, 1991-1992 and the 1994-1995 droughts, and the 1977-1978, 1985, 1998 and more recently the 2000 /2001 floods. Furthermore, since 2001/2002 agricultural season the current drought.
Meanwhile, since 1992, Mozambique has been on an upward move in its development activities until the devastating floods of the year 2000 and the subsequent flooding in 2001 which retarded its growth trend.
Loss of lives and property, severe restriction of movement of goods and people, damages to infrastructure and the fall of agro-production are some of the indicators showing the extent of economic and social impact on the affected areas. The recent data on the cereals production show an increase of 2% compared with the initial estimate of 10% in the year 2000 when 699 people died compared to 113 in 2001 and 80 deaths in 2003. The Mozambican economy is about 30% dependent on agriculture. Therefore, the impact lead not only to the reduction of circulation of people and goods, paralysis of commerce, but also to reduction of agricultural production reducing. For example, the GDP per capita fell from USD 246 in 1999 to USD 210 in 2002, whilst the inflation rate rose to 12.7% and worsening of absolute poverty rates.
Since the country’s Independence in 1975 several steps were taken towards the development of EWS. However, external factors hindered this efforts putting more emphases on relief actions. Only in 1999 was possible to create the current disaster management mechanisms based on National Disaster Policy whilst currently is revising another legal framework to be discussed soon in the Parliament. This is deemed important bearing in mind the increase in frequency and impact of natural disasters such as floods and cyclones in the recent years.
Mozambique’s response to disaster management is predicated upon a multi-sectoral multi-disciplinary approach involving all the stakeholders such as government, NGOs, the bilateral partners, the private sector and civil society These include the early warning systems on drought, floods and cyclones The new cyclone EWS was tested in the rainy season 2002/2003 .
The National Policy on Disaster Management laid down in July 1999 created the main coordinating organ of Disaster Management _The National Institute of Disaster Management – INGC. The National Policy clearly outlines the aim and goals of disaster preparedness and mitigation as an integrated strategy looking at the notion of disaster management as a non-mechanical vision of the disaster cycle. At the highest level risk management is headed by an inter-ministerial council chaired by the Prime Minister charged with the formulation of national policy. On a technical level the structure is reflected by the composition an inter-ministerial technical council responding to technical issues, under the INGC chairmanship and coordination as shown below.
The need to programme better disaster management trough preparedness, based on the Contingency Planning, also arises from the frequency and cyclical nature of disasters in the country. The available data show that the country has been characterised by floods, drought and cyclones, in addition to other sporadic disasters occurring in different parts of the country.
The seasonal forecasts provided at the beginning of the rainy season around September every year by SARCOF become the basis for the preparation of the National Contingency Plan which takes into consideration all possible scenarios for the coming months. The Early Warning System for scenarios involve different sectors.
Realizing the need to strengthen the structures created by the National Policy on Disaster Management capacity building efforts are underway in partnership with the UNDP, and other bilateral arrangements such as the Germany Government trough InWent.
While Early Warning is seen the starting point of disaster response and mitigation, the question is raised on how we can go one step further in using the system and operationalize mitigation programmes. Therefore, future areas of sub-regional ( e.g. SADC), regional and international cooperation in disaster reduction include training, research, risk mapping and capacity building to link immediate disaster response with long term development. Being Mozambique a development country the cost efective approach imply a balanced combination of structural and non- structural measures relating disaster mitigation, such as awareness campaign, insurance schemes and building codes. This is because we strongly believe that the early warning system is only a necessary condition for risk reduction, as is illustrated by the social and economic impact of both tropical depression Delfina in December 2002 and tropical cyclone Japhet in March 2003. Both meteorological systems were timely forecasted and the warning issued, nonetheless their social and economic damages require our attention.
I conclude highlighting that a well established that risk management requires inter-sectoral co-ordination and collaboration and a long term strategy with community based approach and regional coordination is cost-effective. The death toll and the number of displaced people is steadily less in the last 3 years, as a result of massive awareness campaign, training and early warning improvement.. Mozambique is committed to implement, at all levels from the grass root, a national strategy of planning that considers risk management as integral component of the National Developmental effort linked with the other government programmes towards poverty alleviation.
I recommend a proactive approach in risk reduction. Disasters in Mozambique are exacerbated by the its weak economic structure which requires an infusion of support in communication and information systems, training, search and rescue capacity and the implementation of an integrated long term strategy to respond adequately to disasters in Mozambique as a way to secure a sustainable socio economic development.
Author: Silvano Langa , INGC Director , Mozambique