By Barbara Dunlap-Berg*
In February 2017, Mozambique was struck by winds of more than 62 miles per hour and battered by torrential rain and rough seas. Cyclone Dineo killed seven people, injured 55, and affected more than 650,000 people across southern Mozambique. More than 20,000 homes, nearly 1,000 classrooms, and 70 health centers were destroyed.
One of the world’s poorest countries, Mozambique is often crippled by deadly flooding and storms. In 2000, floods claimed at least 800 lives, and more than 100 were killed in 2015. Scores have already died in the current rainy season, which began in October.
Cecilio Bila, Bishop Joaquina Nhanala, and the administrator of Maxixe district attend the project launch at The Center of Hope. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF MOZAMBIQUE
The United Methodist Church of Mozambique, with support from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), is rehabilitating or reconstructing 100 houses, including five parsonages, in Inhambane Province. In November, Bishop Joaquina Nhanala, along with government officials, launched the project in the Chicuque Municipality of Maxixe.
Some of the cyclone’s most vulnerable survivors are benefiting from the year-long project. The United Methodist Church supplies construction materials and pays local individuals to construct or repair the houses. Beneficiaries are involved in the project by controlling the materials that are supplied and helping with water and other services.
At The Center of Hope in Maxixe, Mozambique, participants attend the project launch for rehabilitation and reconstruction of 100 homes. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF MOZAMBIQUE
Averting future disasters
Various factors determine the decision to repair or rebuild homes. “We tend to lean toward the options that provide safer, long-term structures that are within code and local government regulations,” said Nina King, UMCOR senior operations assistant. “This project is designed to build homes that are stronger than the previous homes to … withstand the high possibility of another weather crisis.” When homes need to be rebuilt, The United Methodist Church of Mozambique is offering a solid house consisting of one bedroom and a dining room to provide protection from inclement weather.
Offering technical support and supervision are a civil engineer, a logistician, United Methodist Church of Mozambique district superintendents and pastors serving Inhambane, Massinga and Murrombene.
This is the third intervention of this kind from The United Methodist Church of Mozambique and UMCOR. The first was during the 2000 floods in Maputo, Bairro Zimpeto Matendeni, where 200 houses were constructed. Later, houses were built in Buzi District, Sofala Province.
In addition to the ongoing construction effort, King noted, immediately after the cyclone hit, UMCOR provided food for the community to alleviate emergency needs. She said UMCOR granted $299,215 to assist with Cyclone Dineo recovery and $250,000 for the current housing project.
*Barbara Dunlap-Berg is a retired writer and editor of United Methodist Communications.