“Where there is life, there is hope”

After Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, Cecília Chata Valentim, a young mother, and the seven children under her care were resettled to Mandruzi site to start a life. The UNDP Recovery Facility supports Cecília through new housing and women economic empowerment activities.

Cecília Chata Valentim and her children in front of the new house under construction. Photo: UNDP/Brenda Hada

“These storms came to bother us, and you never know what might happen, but the community knows how to prepare and is building stronger houses. What happened with cyclone Idai cannot happen again… It was very sad”, explains Cecília.

Cecília’s testimony aligns with the facts. From 2019 to 2021, four cyclones hit Mozambique, which further challenged communities’ resilience to climate crisis. In each natural disaster, Mozambique loses lives, more infrastructure is destroyed and essential services are disrupted. Disproportionately, it is estimated that, by 2100 the poorest countries in the world could experience up to 100 more days of extreme weather due to climate change each year–Mozambique is one of the ten countries in the world with the lowest human development (HDI 2020).

To help build resilience for vulnerable communities in Sofala province, more than 1,100 homes and 18 infrastructures, including schools and markets, are being built and/or rehabilitated by the Recovery Facility, following resilient construction standards (Building Back Better) for the reestablishment of services and the assurance of durable infrastructure, which may serve as shelter for communities in possible future disasters. At least 15,000 people will directly benefit from this initiative.

In addition, to help reduce disaster risk and encourage action within the affected communities, several access roads (960 km) and drainage ditches (8.5 km3) have been cleared through temporary work with cash-transfer (cash-for-work).

Livelihoods to create resilience in future disasters

Despite the trauma she experienced with the cyclones, Cecília remains moved by the responsibility of taking care of her children and, designed a work routine in which she manages to “save money so that the children live more comfortable”. “I am both the mother and father to them. I have to work so they don’t feel bad because they are missing something,” Cecília explains.

The resumption of her income accelerated from July 2020, when the young mother started to participate in the Mozambique Recovery Facility’s cycle of activities with focus on women economic empowerment and livelihood recovery. She received an agricultural kit of seeds and tools and a duck rearing kit, participated in village savings and loan associations and engaged in cleaning drainage ditches in the neighborhood and in building the community’s waste management and treatment center.

Cecília during her routine of working in the community and taking care of her children. Photo: UNDP/Brenda Hada

The young woman also received training on the production of organic fertilizers (biological charcoal and composting), on entrepreneurship and tailoring. Such activities promoted by the MRF program, in addition to reduce poverty, help reduce disaster risk and encourage sustainable actions adapted to the reality of women, so that they become multiplier leaders of these initiatives in the community in view of climate change.

Cecília’s participation in economic empowerment activities has energized her life; she takes advantage of the tools and knowledge acquired to sustain her family and help her community. She planted rice, corn and sweet potato in her garden, flowers and other vegetables in the community crops using the fertilizer produced, and her ducks hatched two nests. Amid this routine, she was able to finish her studies in basic education, in the same school that sheltered her during Cyclone Idai, another milestone from her tireless effort.

Aware of the importance of her community, Cecília concluded by saying: “I would like to mobilize and sensitize other people, neighbors, so that they do not lose hope. Everything is a process. Where there is life, there is hope”.

Cecília at the waste management and treatment center, where she works with the community to separate solid and organic waste, to produce fertilizers and to plant vegetables and flowers, in an integrated work system. Photo: UNDP/Brenda Hada

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