Beira: Mozambique's second largest city is sinking

Beira: Mozambique's second largest city is sinking
From Al Jazeera - November 9, 2017

Beira, Mozambique - Albano Joze, stares blankly at a group of fishermen casting their nets in shallow waters on the coast of the Indian Ocean, near Beira, Mozambique's second largest city.

He kicks a lump of soil and shakes his head in frustration.

"I have been living here for more than 10 years, but I have never seen this sea as violent as it is these years," says Joze, an informal trader in the city, which is just a few metres above average sea level.

"One night I woke up to find all rooms in my house filled with water and most of my household property was destroyed".

Most settlements in Beira, which is on the Mozambique Channel, are poorly planned, and houses are badly built, leaving many at risk during floods.

Do you think our gods are angry? We hope this problem of floods will go away soon

Albano Joze, Beira resident

Daviz Simango, Beira's mayor since 2003 and an influential politician,has previously claimed that water-borne diseases such as malaria, and even in rare cases cholera, pose a serious threat.

"Every year we are experiencing violent storms and floods which are making our lives difficult," Joze says with a weary sigh. "We ca not move away from the sea because our lives depend on it, one way or another."

He traverses the breadth and length of the coastal area in Beira selling an assortment of wares, mostly to fishermen.

"I am not a fisherman but these fishermen are my customers, and I ca not imagine leaving this place. How will I survive if I leave?

"Do you think our gods are angry at us for whatever reasons? We hope this problem of floods will go away soon".

But the problem is not going away anytime soon.

According to the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), Mozambique - with its coastal cities slowly being swallowed by the rising sea level - ranks third among African countries most exposed to multiple weather hazards.

Home to some 30 million people, the southern African country suffers from periodic cyclones, droughts, floods, and related epidemics.

"Floods occur every two to three years, with higher levels of risk in the central and southern regions," says GFDRR. "Climate change is likely to worsen current climate variability, leading to more intense droughts, unpredictable rains, floods and uncontrolled fires."

Data from the Mozambique's National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) shows an increase in natural disasters in the country over the past 30 years.

Up to 60 percent of the population lives in coastal areas, meaning large numbers are exposed to the rising sea level and other climate change extremes.

Tropical cyclones build up over the Indian Ocean, sending in water that pummels coastal cities such as Beira and Maputo, Mozambique's largest city.

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