Update on Mozambique – Jessie Forsyth – Canadian Director Mozambique Canada Maternal Health Project

Mozambique has been hit by two major disasters – Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth – in the space of merely 6 weeks. Jessie Forsyth, the Canadian Director for the Mozambique Canada Maternal Health Project, has recently returned to Canada and these are some of her observations.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Cyclone-Kenneth-2-photo.jpg

“The country is reeling from the unprecedented severity of experiencing two cyclones back to back. The most recent one, Cyclone Kenneth, is located in an area of northern Mozambique that normally does not get cyclones. After the very powerful destructive winds and massive rainfall from Cyclone Kenneth – people are facing heavy flooding – thousands have had to evacuate for higher ground. It is a worrying and demanding time.

This has created, and will continue to create, huge impacts in Mozambique. Crops have been destroyed, livelihoods lost, shelter gone, insufficient or no food or medical support available, unsafe sanitation that breeds diseases such as cholera. Some people have lost track of their loved ones, friends and families.

Climate change has been cited as a major factor in the intensity and destructive nature of these cyclones.

It is an injustice to Mozambique. Mozambique does not have the infrastructure to handle both the impact on communities and the environment. And Mozambique is not a major contributor to the ecological degradation that undergirds climate change. The response to these disasters will require a global commitment in both the short-term and the long-term to rebuilding Mozambique.

International aid has been forthcoming, but super efforts will be required given the depth of damage. Communities throughout Mozambique have mobilized support for communities impacted, though, and are doing all they can to support relief response and rebuilding.

Our work of the Mozambique Canada Maternal Health Project is in Inhambane Province, south of where the cyclones hit.

Despite these natural disasters, our work is continuing and doing well. We have established strong foundations over the past 2 years in the overall objective of empowering women for strengthened health.

Some major highlights include the establishment of 20 community partnerships with the formation of Community Health Committees working on sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn health issues. We are meeting our goals of seeing a majority of women in leadership positions. We are also forming microprojects in flour grinding, chicken and egg production and better latrine production, all of which provide women with the economic means for more independent living.

Another key focus is the development of community-based health networks wherein different groups working for better health and development can combine their knowledge skills alongside institutional health partners. This includes everyone from traditional healers and midwives to community-based health workers and institutional health personnel.

The networks come together to support heathy pregnancies and deliveries. Alongside these are efforts to build community maternities and waiting homes for pregnant women.

When facing the destruction by the two massive cyclones it is important to keep these initiatives going to build on for the future of Mozambique.”

Donations for recovery and rebuilding can be made through: info@humanitariancoalition.ca