“A mud house in a flood area” describes the home where Cecília, 24, her four children and three orphan nephews lived before Cyclone Idai, which affected 1.8 million people in Mozambique in 2019. “Due to the cyclone, I lost my house and documents. I worked with agriculture and managed to sell my production but, after Cyclone Idai, I had no money and nowhere to live. I thought of how I could go on with my life and get back to normal”, she recalled.
To start over, Cecília and the seven children moved to Mandruzi resettlement neighborhood, an area granted by the local government to vulnerable displaced families under an urban development plan. “At that time, the important thing for me was to find a safe place where we would have our own land, without having to leave afterwards”, said Cecília, remembering the schools and temporary shelters where they had flee before.
Two years later, the family currently rebuilds a new life, with the support of organizations on the ground. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is building a house for the family and has promoted several income-generating activities for Cecilia, who is the head of the family, through the post-cyclone program Mozambique Recovery Facility (MRF), in coordination with Government’s Reconstruction Cabinet (GREPOC), with funds from the European Union, Canada, China, Finland, India, the Netherlands and Norway.
For the first time Cecília and her children will live in a cement house, sturdy to withstand climate events, and safe in the rainy season. From the backyard of the old house, she has been following the construction work of the family's new residence since its foundation. “I see the materials they use and there is a lot of difference from our old house. It will also be simpler to maintain hygiene, while in the mud house which has no windows, the dust never ends.”
Livelihoods to create resilience in future disasters
Despite the trauma she experienced with the cyclones, Cecília remains moved by her responsibility of raising her children and has designed a work routine that enables her to “save money so that the children live more comfortably”. "I am both their mother and father. I have to work so they don't feel bad because something is missing in their childhood”, Cecília explained.
Cecilia started to accelerate her livelihood recovery in July 2020, when she started to participate in the UNDP Recovery Facility’s cycle of activities focused on women economic empowerment. She has received an agricultural kit (seeds and tools) and a duck rearing kit; participated in village savings and loan associations; engaged in the cleaning of the local drainage ditches through cash-for-work activities; and helped build the community’s waste management center.
The young woman has also received skills trainings on organic fertilizer production (biological charcoal and composting), entrepreneurship and tailoring. These activities were promoted by UNDP MRF to support poverty reduction efforts and reduce disaster risk in vulnerable communities while also encouraging sustainable actions adapted to women's needs. In the future these women can be the multipliers of activities they had learned.
Cecília's participation in economic empowerment activities has energized her life; she has used the tools and new knowledge to keep sustaining her family and as a way to help her community. She has been planting rice, corn and sweet potato in her garden, flowers and other vegetables in the community crops combined with use of biofertilizers. Her ducks also hatched two nests. Amid all this, another milestone from her tireless effort was the completion of her basic education, coincidentally, in the same school that sheltered her family during Cyclone Idai.
Aware of the importance of her community, Cecília concluded: “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”.