“We birthed triplets while Tropical Storm Ana was ripping away parts of the roof” – nurse

“On the night the storm hit, we assisted a mother as she gave birth to triplets, while the health centre was flooding and intense wind was ripping away parts of the roof. The situation was scary but we were very lucky. The mother and her three babies survived,” said Filomena Aibo Joao, a nurse at Alto Benfica Health Centre in Mocuba District.

Tropical Storm Ana made landfall in Angoche district, in the coastal province of Nampula on 24 January. Then it tracked westwards towards Zambezia and Tete provinces, causing flooding, severe damage to public infrastructure and homes, as well as interruption of basic services. The storm has caused widespread damage in Zambezia, Nampula and Tete provinces, and to a lesser extent Sofala, Niassa and Cabo Delgado provinces.

“My house collapsed on top of me after I managed to take my children out,” said 48-year-old Florinda Culosa, from Mocuba District of Zambezia. Florinda had taken shelter in the house she shared with her six children and two grandchildren, and she was injured when it fell in on her.

“I feel very sad about losing my house. Now I am asking for support so that we can move forward with our lives.”

I feel very sad about losing my house.

Lives, homes and health centres destroyed

UNFPA Mozambique is supporting the Mozambican Government’s efforts to assist affected populations in multiple provinces, including Zambezia, where more than 58,000 people were affected, 52 were injured, almost 3000 houses were destroyed and 17 health centres were damaged (INGD, 31 January).

UNFPA joined the recently established Provincial Multisectoral Needs Assessment Team (composed of provincial authorities and humanitarian partners) on a mission to the Namungaine Community in the Mugeba neighborhood of Mocuba district where, according to the Medical Chief of the District, Dr. Leonodo Janeiro, 17 families lost their homes and three people were injured.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) expressed concern about the storm’s impact and the limited resources available to respond to the needs of vulnerable populations, already affected by previous natural disasters and the conflict in the northern region. According to Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction (INGD), more than 141,000 people were affected (29,000 families), 220 people were injured and 25 people died (INGD, as of 31 January). Thirty health centres were also damaged. Continuing heavy rains have raised concerns for populations in low-lying areas.

Supporting the most vulnerable women and girls

Through humanitarian funding support, the UNFPA Mozambique country office is currently supporting the Government to strengthen sexual and reproductive health services and protection services for the most vulnerable populations, particularly women and girls of reproductive age. Of the total people affected by Tropical Storm Ana, this includes an estimated 34,000 women of reproductive age, and 4,000 pregnant women (Minimum Initial Services Package calculation) who need reproductive health services.

To enhance preparedness and response efforts, with a particular focus on the sexual and reproductive health needs of affected women and girls, UNFPA supported efforts to assess the stock of contraceptives and maternal health medicines in the Mocuba District medical warehouse, run by Zambezia Provincial Health Services (SPS) and Mozambique’s Central Medical Stores (CMAM). These contraceptives and medical commodities will be provided to the affected populations through mobile brigades established to provide sexual and reproductive health services in the most remote affected areas.

As part of UNFPA’s response in Tete Province, mobile clinics resumed their services in Doa district on 25 January, after the heavy rains receded, in order to ensure continuity of reproductive health services for populations affected by Ana. The mobile clinics, organized through the My Choice project with support from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Mozambique, aim to provide continuity of sexual and reproductive health and family planning services to communities that may be isolated due to the floods.

In collaboration with government partners, in the coming weeks UNFPA will provide several thousand dignity kits to vulnerable women and girls affected by the storm to support their menstrual hygiene, sanitary, and female dignity needs – with items including reusable menstrual pads and underwear – and to support protection and safety with whistles and flashlights to aid them at night, giving women like Florinda (and their daughters) one less thing to worry about.

Ensuring continuity of services

Several tents (24 square metres each) are being shipped this week, including to Zambezia, to be provided to damaged health centres to support continued service provision. Relief materials and support for staff involved in the response are being provided by the Government of Norway, the UNFPA Emergency Response Fund, and by the Government of Austria for assessments and related support in Nampula province.

UNFPA in Mozambique continues to pre-position reproductive health kits, tents, dignity kits, and other supplies, to respond rapidly during the cyclone season. This preparation is pertinent, as another tropical cyclone, Batsirai, has formed and may also affect Mozambique in the second week of February.

Scaling up support for the most vulnerable remains critical. For women like Florinda, increased access to health services through mobile clinics, and dignity supplies, will strengthen their autonomy and their ability to protect themselves.

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