Moving towards the recovery phase in Beira

Themes: Climate change Hygiene Planning Sanitation Utilities Water
Countries: Mozambique Mozambique-local

How to rebuild after the crisis?

The devastating impacts of Cyclone Idai in early March were widespread across five of Mozambique’s eleven provinces, affecting 1.5 million people. The city of Beira was hardest hit, and thousands of families are still struggling to get their lives back together.

After a major relief operation which saw families housed in temporary camps, residents are now moving back to what is left of their houses, starting work on fixing roofs and rebuilding their lives, doing the best that they can with scarce resources.

In particular, poor water, sanitation and hygiene presents a major obstacle for communities.

The water network is now back up and running, but with reduced supply – except for the limited number of people who have household connections, most residents are reliant on accessing shared taps in their communities, travelling further afield to buy water or obtain water from unimproved often polluted sources. The main water treatment plant for the city is damaged and will need to be repaired by FIPAG, the water utility.

Community in Beira, Mozambique

Many dwellings in Beira’s bairros need rebuilding

Sanitation facilities are extremely limited: the sewer network covers only about 10% of the city, with the rest of the city dependent on pit latrines, toilets with septic tanks or having no access to a sanitation facility.

In the wake of the cyclone, the damage to sanitation facilities, combined with the lack of safe drinking water, caused fears that cholera could spread rapidly. Cholera is an infectious disease transmitted when people drink water contaminated by faecal matter.

Although major outbreak of cholera was contained by the relief operation, an estimated 4,000 cases were diagnosed up to mid-April in the main cities and their peri urban areas.

But the challenge now is: how can sanitation systems be rebuilt and improved in Beira city, given the high water table which presents a real problem for constructing sanitation facilities and managing sanitation waste?

With the relief operation now reducing in scope, WSUP is planning how it can support the long-term recovery of the city. Even before the cyclone, poverty levels were extremely high in Beira, particularly in the peri-urban communities: now, we hope to use the post-cyclone recovery efforts to make a long-term, sustainable difference to the city’s residents.

Damaged office of WSUP partner

Damaged office of one of WSUP’s community partners

WSUP has worked in Beira since 2015, with the water utility FIPAG as well as with community-based organisations whose operations were significantly set back by the cyclone. Our operations were put temporarily on hold in the wake of Cyclone Idai but we are now building up our presence again.

Our goals include:

  • Working with our community partners, which WSUP had collaborated closely with before the cyclone, to repair their offices and equipment. The community partners had been playing an important role in helping to connect unserved communities to the water supply network and improving hygiene practices before the cyclone, and will continue to do so once they are operational.
  • Supporting the utility FIPAG, first under its emergency programme to restore services, and secondly over the longer term to extend water connections out to communities in peri-urban areas which are unserved.
  • Supporting Beira’s municipality and sanitation authority to improve access to safe sanitation by helping them to adopt the new sanitation regulatory framework. This would enable the city to be able to better utilise the several millions of funding allocated for sanitation improvements for Beira from the recently approved World Bank funded $115 million Mozambique Urban Sanitation and Drainage Project.

Read more about our work in Mozambique.