New York – To upscale support to the most affected people by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has mobilized over US$60 million within six months of these unprecedented disasters to help Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The funds will be used to build back better lives and fast track early recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

These two devastating cyclones that hit the coast of Mozambique between March and April 2019, killed hundreds of people and left about 1.85 million people in Mozambique homeless and without basic necessities and infrastructure. Cyclone Idai also caused significant flooding, damage and destruction of homes, resulting in numerous deaths in southern Malawi and in eastern Zimbabwe.

Following these disasters, the United Nations and Governments of these three countries launched humanitarian appeals. UNDP immediately mobilized US$1 million in emergency funding for recovery including debris clearance; reconstruction of more weather-resilient houses; and rapid restoration of livelihoods in all three countries. It also quickly deployed additional technical expertise to help the countries to respond and recover from the disasters.

Since then, UNDP has intensified its resource mobilization drive to help the largest number of affected people to restore their lives and livelihoods. Recognizing its competence in this field, various development actors have partnered with UNDP, making major commitments to help the affected populations. So far, the US$60 million mobilized includes commitments from the European Union (EU) (35million Euros for Mozambique); China (US$5 million: US$1 million for Malawi, and US$2 million each for Mozambique and Zimbabwe); World Bank ($2.3 million for Zimbabwe) as well as other commitments yet to be announced.  

The interventions will support the restoration of livelihoods and reconstruction of more resilient infrastructure such as schools, houses, clinics, markets, damaged irrigation structures, potable water systems and provide humanitarian assistance including food.  

To fast track the recovery process, the Government of Mozambique and UNDP  have established a UNDP Recovery Facility. Similarly, through the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund, UNDP experts are working with smallholder farmers, to address food insecurity and economic challenges. In addition, UNDP is partnering with the World Food Programme (WFP) to provide cash assistance for the most vulnerable populations in Zimbabwe. Together with the World Bank, UNDP in Zimbabwe is also supporting the government to develop a Recovery and Resilience Framework. Moreover, in Malawi, UNDP is helping to repair and build back better community infrastructure damaged in the floods, including irrigation channels and water access points, and has partnered with the Malawi Red Cross Society and Habitat for Humanity Malawi to construct climate-resilient homes for the most vulnerable.

The resources mobilized will complement funds pledged at an international conference held from 31 May to 1 June.  US$1.3 billion in pledges were made for the reconstruction effort. This conference was based on a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment that was conducted jointly by the EU, UN, World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB), which estimated about US$3.2 billion funding needs for reconstruction in Mozambique alone. In Malawi, the estimated recovery and reconstruction needs stand at US$370.54 million. UNDP continues to work with its partners to mobilize additional resources to fill remaining gaps in the response to the cyclones.

The building back better approach adopted by UNDP focuses on early action to help restore lives in a sustainable manner. With more supports from partners, many of these internally displaced populations can now have access to basic infrastructure and return to better lives.

In all three countries, UNDP has supported the governments in the development of national recovery plans and helping to mainstream disaster risk reduction in the national planning and budget exercises. It is also extensively partnering with private sector organizations benefiting from their skills and rapid deployment capacities and receiving their material inputs to build back better.

Cyclones Idai and Kenneth teach us valuable lessons, stressing on the importance of intensifying investments in disaster risk reduction and on the need for Governments to have the capacity to build infrastructures with climate resilience in mind. These also teach us that, building resilience means not only planning at the national level but also at the community level. This is the essence of UNDP’s approach to building back better, focusing on people.  

There is a clear recognition that the devastating effects of the two cyclones, resulting in billions of dollars in damage and loss, serves as a reminder that climate change threatens to unravel hard-won development gains. Therefore, building back better with climate resilience in mind and with a people-focused approach is not an option but an imperative. At the same time, this cannot be done without resources. UNDP is grateful for the support from its partners so far and remains committed to an enduring partnership to rebuild lives. 

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