Building resilient communities in the face of disaster — Mozambique Update
Anva Ratzon, IsraAID Protection Specialist currently with the Emergency Response team in Mozambique, explains why community is at the heart of what we do.
IsraAID’s mission is to respond to emergencies and work with communities around the world to strengthen resilience and look towards long-term recovery. Recently, on one of my first days here in Mozambique as part of IsraAID’s Emergency Response team, I visited two places that demonstrated the importance of that approach. Both were in Beira, the city where Cyclone Idai made landfall. Both were temporary shelters for people whose homes were damaged by the storm — thanks to the devastation, more than 130,000 people are currently displaced to evacuation centers. Both were also schools, until the need for places for people to shelter pressed them into their current, temporary use.
In the first one, the situation, understandably, seemed difficult. This is the reality for many displaced people. The floor was covered in water. There were people cooking inside what are normally classrooms, creating fire hazards and a lot of smoke and smell. There was little in the way of sanitation, and the toilets were unusable. Few services were on offer to the evacuees, who had been through the worst, losing homes and loved ones in the cyclone.
When disasters strike, the impact is not only physical; it can also affect our emotional well-being, social and communal networks and ability to trust, receive help and initiate change.
However, there are different responses to disaster and our teams of professionals tailor their response and the programs accordingly.
In the second shelter, we encountered an active community, mobilizing to improve conditions and begin to rebuild. Members of the evacuee community were volunteering to keep the shelter going. There were designated areas for outside cooking, games, a clinic, a maternity room, handwashing stations and more. We were given a tour by one of the temporary residents, a nurse by trade, who saw when she arrived that she had to take responsibility for her community and work to make the shelter the best possible place it can be, despite all the difficulties.
Part of our plan here is to institute programs, such as the running of Child Friendly Spaces, that help the communities living in temporary shelters to take proactive responsibility over their everyday reality and build resilience.
Our hope is to accompany communities as they recover — because in a place where it seems like you don’t have control over their lives, the little things are the things that make a difference.
We need your help to bring relief to the people of Mozambique. Please donate to IsraAID’s emergency fund to support our response.
More updates from Mozambique coming soon. Thank you for your support!
-Anva Ratzon, IsraAID Emergency Response team Protection Specialist