Beira hit by Cyclone Eloise

Beira, Mozambique’s second city, after being hit by Cyclone Eloise. Photo credit: BBC/EPA.

In today’s blog I want to raise awareness of and ask you to join me in showing solidarity with our Mozambican twin city who are experiencing yet another cyclone likely due to the drastic impact of climate change

It was with a heavy heart that I followed the weather map path of Cyclone Eloise as it made its way to Beira, our Mozambican twin city on the 23rd January. The messages coming through from my friend Mayor Simango spoke of roofs blown off, walls down, windows out, electricity lines down, 100mph winds, 300mm of rainfall in 24 hours, and so it went on. The Mayor’s team and relief agencies moved thousands of Beira residents into stronger buildings such as schools, as the huge purpose-built drainage channels overflowed and the flood basins filled up, no chance of pumping the water out to sea for days due to the storm surges in the tide. Sadly six people lost their lives, mainly due to falling rubble.

As the cyclone and subsequent rainfall moved far inland, a picture emerged of over 7,500 Beira citizens made homeless and moving into temporary refugee camps. Across the whole trajectory of the cyclone, 262,000 people including 130,000 children were affected and needing humanitarian assistance. 16,700 Mozambicans have lost their homes with 74 health centres and 322 classrooms destroyed. UNICEF and the International Red Cross are on the case and the UK Government has pledged £1 million for the temporary camps. Teams were deployed to Beira before Cyclone Eloise hit and are now distributing prepositioned basic household and hygiene items, water purification kits, tarpaulins and medicine for up to 20,000 people in the city and province. The potential outbreak of waterborne diseases like diarrhoea and cholera is a major concern in flooded areas. The British High Commission in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, reported that a UK humanitarian team is on the ground in Beira involving support from the University of Bristol.

“Beira is a cyclone corridor”, said Mayor Simango, “and we are still recovering from Cyclone Idai from March 2019. “Part of our recovery has included the construction of designated flood plains, basins and drainage channels to take excess water out to sea, combined with community education, which reduced the impact of the 100mph winds of Cyclone Eloise, and the lesser Cyclone Chalane last month. “This time we need the International community along with our Dutch and German government partners to step up and support our Beira plan for a flood mitigation infrastructure programme.”

This is another tragic reminder of the devastating effects that the Climate Emergency has on the world’s poorest countries and those least responsible for causing it.

I have also taken up a position representing the UK on the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth local Government Forum and I am aiming to contribute to practical proposals for Ccommonwealth cities (including in Mozambique) to work with national governments to put in place governance and finance to be resilient to shocks and disasters such as these. Bristol continues to work with UK Core Cities and other international networks of cities to ensure that the voices of cities are heard as nation states make decisions on targets and actions to tackle climate change.

If you would like to donate to the Bristol Link with Beira for their COVID and Cyclone support work then please go to  https://www.gofundme.com/f/bristol-beira-covid19-appeal

And if you would like to get involved with their longer term work check out their website https://bristolbeiralink.org/ and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/bristolbeiralink/