Stolen by the storm: farms and food for Mozambique

Post date Tuesday, 16 April, 2019 - 11:02

Among the casualties of Cyclone Idai are the livelihoods of people such as Ernesto Ameral, a 26-year-old farmer in the small Mozambican town of Dombe, near the Mussapa River and not far from Zimbabwe.

Like many farmers in the region, Ameral was anxiously awaiting his harvest of onions, tomatoes and beans before the cyclone struck last month. Before the storm, he was able to provide enough food for his family. Now, his crops are still soggy with water and mud.

“I have never seen anything like that before,” he told photojournalist Brecht De Vleeschauwer, who travelled to Dombe, which was cut off from the outside world for a week after the storm. “Now, we will have to rely on aid.”

It will take months before his crops recover, he says. He’s dependent on aid from the World Food Programme and is living amid more than 1,000 people squeezed into tents erected by the Mozambican government.

Government figures estimate that some 715,000 hectares of crops were flooded or destroyed in all of Mozambique. More than 75,000 people in the Sofala province and Manica will soon receive agricultural kits containing mature seeds and equipment. Farmers in these two provinces alone produce approximately 25 percent of the national cereal output.

While more than 4,000 cases of cholera and seven deaths have been reported from the disease, health officials are also concerned about a rise in malaria due to the standing water. Health officials in the Dombe area say malaria cases are already climbing.