If not Mozambique, then what?

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Ostatnia aktualizacja: 2024-02-02. Autor: Milena

If not Mozambique, then what will move us?

According to the United Nations (the UN) data, in the moment when I’m writing this article (29-30th of March, 2019), 786 people died in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi as a consequence of the cyclone Idai. The cyclone had an impact also on further 2,9 million of people. What impact? These people are wounded, sick, homeless, without food, potable water, waiting for any outside help. In this situation they are not able to do anything on their own. There have no means for it, the regions affected by this element degenerated into mud seas.

And there’s just silence in Polish media.

I made a survey on Instagram (LINK: https://www.instagram.com/milenanaazorach/) and among my friends. I learned that many of you doesn’t know what’s happened. I’ve never been planning to report facts, I thought there were proper programs doing that. However, today you will receive some facts mixed with my personal feelings.

To start with – a few facts.

On the 14th of March, 2019, cyclone Idai hit the southeastern Africa. It had a strong impact on Mozambique (the strongest one), Zimbabwe and Malawi. Wind up to 200 kph (different sources present different data) and heavy rains (yearly amount within a few days) destroyed houses, churches, hospitals, schools, roads. In the place of the city Beira in Mozambique there’s now a inland sea of mud, covering the surface of over 2000 sq. km. Four times the Warsaw’s surface.

The UN called the cyclone Idai and its aftermath “one of the worst weather-related disasters ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.”

People were being rescued from the roofs, trees sticking out over the water, from “islands” among the brown water. The UN, The International Committee of the Red Cross and many other organizations from all around the world reached the affected areas with helicopters. They delivered water, food and basic hygiene kits. They set up tents and try to give the survivors some shelter and at least a bit of dignity.

The Mozambican government confirmed the first cases of cholera – lethal disease caused by consuming infected water or food. Vaccinating against it has already started. There is also risk of malaria and other waterborne diseases.

In an interview for a Mozambican journal, “Verdade”, the Mozambique’s former first lady, Graça Machel, said that her country and her people “will go down in history as having been the first city to be completely devastated by climate change.”

She also added that Mozambique will need the world’s attention not only during the next weeks, but also during the next years.

Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world. In the last century it was still a Portuguese colony. Only in 1975 it became an independent country. Internal fights, though, continued, which had very negative effects on the whole society.

But why am I talking about it?

I’m talking about it, because I was very moved by it. And I was moved by the fact that in the Polish media there’s almost no information on that topic. And in the Portuguese radio, I hear about it every day. Probably because of the connections between Portugal and Mozambique. However, in many places the media is silent.

I’m also talking about it because of my personal perspective. I used to want to dig wells in Sudan. Three weeks ago I was writing to my friends: “Any maybe I would go to Mozambique?” One of the local humanitarian organizations goes there soon – and I was wondering whether to go with them. To help. My job situation wouldn’t let me do that anyway, but such an idea appeared in my mind at some point. Well, a week later I got a message: “What’s up, Mili? Are you still going to Mozambique?”

My personal perspective must have had influenced on the fact that this topic moved me more than others. And I did treat it personally at the beginning. But I started listening and reading more about it. And I realized that it’s one of the things that have a huge meaning for the whole world.

I’m not a meteorology specialist, but just from the observation of the nature in Terceira I have an impression that the climate really warms up.

Two years ago, when I moved here, I couldn’t hang laundry outside, because it was always raining. This year my clothes were getting dry on the lined behind my house almost every weekend. I’m wondering what the summer will be like. Last year even lichens dried out – and before that they always had water inside. Always. I know that one example doesn’t confirm that the rule is true. However, there are more and more examples.

What’s happened to Mozambique is a natural disaster.

I’m thinking about what the former Mozambique’s first lady said about the climate change. I’m starting to wonder to what extent the situation in Mozambique was caused by us, people. By our thoughtless treatment of nature. To what extent, with all the cheese packaged in plastic and by all the deodorants in spray, I personally had an influence on the global warming and thus, on this catastrophe.

Lately there’s been a popular meme on the internet, it sounded more or less like that (if I remember correctly):

„We don’t need a few people doing #zerowaste and #lesswaste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

As far as I know, in Poland the awareness of our impact on the natural environment has been growing. The European Union is planning to get rid of throwaway plastic. International organizations fish plastic bottles and bags out of the oceans. More and more people go shopping with their own reusable bags. More and more people segregate garbage. And it makes me happy, you know? And we have to go further and further with the environmental education.

Living on a little island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, I can see even more clearly the dimension of our impact on the nature. If we care about it, there’s a bigger change that instead of destroying us, it will feed us.

And no, I don’t think that everybody should get as moved by cyclone Idai as I did. Not everybody was almost going there. And I don’t think that we should focus on every tragedy that happens in the world. There are too many of them. But I do know that we can give something good from ourselves to the world every day. We can take care of the environment, we can take care of ourselves, take care of other people. We can start today!

Reference list:

BBC, Cyclone Idai: 'Massive disaster’ in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, BBC News, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-47624156, 20.03.2019 (access: 30.03.2019).

Caldeira Adérito, “Beira é a primeira cidade na história do mundo que foi completamente arrasada pelas Mudanças Climáticas” diz Graça Machel, Verdade, http://www.verdade.co.mz/tema-de-fundo/35/68242, 25.03.2019 (access: 30.03.2019).

Câncio Fernanda, Moçambique: depois da tempestade, as doenças, Diário de Notícias, https://www.dn.pt/mundo/interior/mocambique-depois-da-tempestade-as-doencas-10709423.html, 21.03.2019 (access: 30.03.2019).

DN, Médicos, enfermeiros, farmacêuticos e técnicos de logística portugueses partem para Moçambique, Diário de Notícias, https://www.dn.pt/mundo/interior/medicos-enfermeiros-farmaceuticos-e-tecnicos-de-logistica-portugueses-partem-para-mocambique–10741400.html, 29.03.2019 (access: 30.03.2019).

DN/Lusa, Idai: número de mortos em Moçambique sobe para 493, Diário de Notícias, https://www.dn.pt/mundo/interior/idai-numero-de-mortos-em-mocambique-sobe-para-493-10738224.html, 29.03.2019 (access: 29.03.2019).

DN/Lusa, Moçambique: cinco casos de cólera; mais de 800 mil afetados, Diário de Notícias, https://www.dn.pt/mundo/interior/idai-cinco-casos-de-colera-confirmados-pelas-autoridades-mocambicanas-na-beira-10729164.html, 27.03.2019 (access: 30.03.2019).

DN/Lusa, Portuguesa repatriada diz que „ninguém estava à espera” dos efeitos do ciclone, Diário de Notícias, https://www.dn.pt/mundo/interior/idai-portuguesa-repatriada-diz-que-ninguem-estava-a-espera-dos-efeitos-do-ciclone-10720401.html, 25.03.2019 (access: 30.03.2019).

Holthaus Eric, Mozambique floods cover more ground than NYC, Chicago, D.C., and Boston — combined, Grist, https://grist.org/article/mozambique-floods-are-larger-than-nyc-chicago-dc-and-boston-combined/, 25.03.2019 (access: 27.03.2019).

United Nations Population Fund, Catastrophic Cyclone Idai leaves pregnant women vulnerable in three countries, https://www.unfpa.org/news/catastrophic-cyclone-idai-leaves-pregnant-women-vulnerable-three-countries, 25.03.2019 (access: 30.09.2019).

United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA response to Mozambique – Cyclone Idai, ReliefWeb, https://reliefweb.int/report/mozambique/unfpa-response-mozambique-cyclone-idai, 20.03.2019 (access: 30.03.2019).

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