Beira (Mozambique): The United Nations is helping nations that are prone to damage from cyclones and other natural disasters construct more resilient buildings to help people recover in their aftermath.
The office of the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction is working with communities on the ground and government officials to help them build structures that can weather the worst of such disasters, and still remain standing afterwards, so that there is less recovery and relief work that needs to be done afterwards, enabling communities to resume their lives once again, and freeing up vital resources that could be needed elsewhere.
One of the locations at which the UNDRR has been implementing this plan is in Mozambique, which faced the full impact of Cyclone Idai in March 2019. Idai was one of the worst cyclones on record to affect Africa’s east coast.
As Idai unleashed its full fury on the African nation, with wind speeds of more than 200 km/hr, entire buildings collapsed and hundreds of houses fell down. Few buildings were spared in the untold destruction wrought by Idai.
Among those builds that faced the cyclone’s onslaught was the Escolha 25 the Junho (25th June School) in the city of Beira, where Cyclone Idai struck. All four of the school’s buildings were damaged.
“When the cyclone came, it destroyed most of the classrooms. The roof was totally destroyed,” recalled Frederico Francisco, the school’s headmaster.
“When the cyclone started, I was very scared. I did not know it was going to happen, it was a surprise,” said Anita Armani, a student at the Escolha 25 de Junho in Beira, to the UNDRR.
However, one building stood strong in the face of Idai. This building had been constructed using techniques to make it stronger and withstand natural disasters. While the presence of this building meant that children still had a place to study, what it symbolised was far greater: it acted as a beacon of hope and strength to the community, in the face of the widespread destruction of Idai, and showed that they could rebuild their city.
Juan Hurtado, a UN Habitat Reconstruction Coordinator, said, “This model, we have built to resist winds of 210 kilometres per hour. We have set up some pillars and the structure is reinforced in all the connections. We trained the community, we trained the contractor, and also the government technicians in resilient construction. We are saving a lot of investment and are creating safer education in the schools.”
“This school is a great example of a culture of resilience of how buildings can resist when they are built to last,” added Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction. “