Cyclone Kenneth: Hundreds flee to Pemba town as torrential rains bring down homes

By Joseph Scott, Mozambique

Afia Raphael had just moved in her new house when Cyclone Kenneth hit her sprawling coastal township of Chibuabuar in Pemba district. Afia, who owned a small confectionery shop, used some of her profits from the business to build her dream two bedroomed house.

“It was such an exciting feeling to finally have my own house,” she says. “It wasn’t that big, but it was just what I wanted. My own bedroom and that of my daughter.”

Rental fees in Chibuabuar are high, which motivated Afia to buy a piece of land to build a house. She erected a temporary structure on the plot as she saved money for building. For seven months, she toiled day and night baking scones and doughnuts, which she sold to fishermen and at the local market.

And then Cyclone Kenneth struck: “The storm was so powerful and it literally tore my new house apart,” she explains. “I feel drained. Two weeks ago I was a proud owner of a new house and today, I am a homeless person.”  

Luckily, when the storm hit her house, Afia had been evacuated to a nearby school. She had heard warnings on the radio of the impending cyclone and rushed to safety. From the school, Afia says she could see her house being dismantled by the heavy winds.

“It was a painful sight to see what I had worked hard for being destroyed in a matter of minutes.  All my belongings were in the house including my baking equipment. Now, I only have the clothes on me and a few pots,” says Afia. “Everything else is gone.”

Overcrowded accommodation centre

A day after Afia lost her house, local authorities sent a bus to move all affected by the cyclone in her community to an accommodation centre in Pemba. About 60 people got on the bus, says Afia, but many were left behind as there were not enough seats.

“I didn’t know where this accommodation centre was, but I felt it was better to go rather than stay in a classroom,” she says.

The first day she arrived at the centre, there weren’t so many people. But as days progressed, hordes of people started coming in by buses, occupying all the empty spaces in the accommodation centres.

Says Afia: “The place is now cramped. More families are arriving every day. Now I am left with only have a small space where I sleep with my daughter. I no longer feel secure as women and men sleep in the same hall. I wish we had separate quarters for males and females.”

According to officials in Mozambique, 23, 760 people are currently staying in accommodation centres set up by government in Cabo Delgado. In Pemba, 11 accommodation centres have been established in schools, churches and sports facilities to host 4,507 people displaced from surrounding locations.

Future plans

Afia prays that the torrential rains induced by Cyclone Kenneth ends soon so that she can go home and rebuilt her house. However, her major concern is lack of financial capital as all her equipment was washed away by floods.

“I am ready to go back home and start afresh but the problem is that the disaster left me with nothing,” says Afia. “However, I if I can get some help with baking equipment or a loan, I can re-establish my business. This is the only way I can buy building materials and feed my child.”

Read more about CARE's work in Mozambique, here.