In early 2023, Mozambique faced the devastating impact of tropical Cyclone Freddy. This was coupled with a cholera outbreak, due to persistently high-water levels and the destruction of homes, infrastructure and livelihoods. As part of joint United Nations response efforts, UN Volunteers have played a crucial role in helping meet the overwhelming humanitarian needs in the country, providing medical assistance, water purification and sanitation services to affected communities.
Ana Paula Machinha and Ramos Cassimo are national UN Volunteers serving with the World Food Programme (WFP) in Mozambique. They share stories from their involvement in the humanitarian response, revealing efforts to counter the cost of the humanitarian crisis in the country.
Ana Paula Machinha, national UN Volunteer Field Monitoring Assistant with WFP
Ana Paula Machinha has been serving with WFP for three years. When floods and cholera both hit her country, Ana was assigned to lead response campaigns in the Machanga district of Sofala province. She shares her experience.
In response to the cholera outbreak, I have been leading campaigns to educate the population about proper hygiene practices, water safety, and the importance of seeking immediate medical attention. Our focus has been on raising awareness among students and teachers in the district to prevent direct contamination through the consumption of contaminated water or food.
Our campaign aimed to improve the nutritional status of students, enhancing their retention in schools by ensuring adequate access to proper nutrition, which serves as a key motivation for them to stay in school. We also implemented measures to reduce dropout rates and combat harmful practices, like child labor and early marriage, which can prevent students from prematurely discontinuing their education.
We are pleased with the results and successes. We have seen a reduction in premature marriages, improvements in student retention in schools and a positive impact on children's nutrition. Despite the progress made, much work remains to address the challenges faced by the community, so we look forward to the continuation of the programme. --Mr Mario Chibihane Massada, Secretary of the Community of Chinhuque
This year, our campaign has benefited 2,850 individuals attending schools in the communities of Chinhuque, Zimuala, Lihua, Chicota, Zariro, Macanga, Nhadjombo, Zariro, Mussanga, Muguruzo, Chipanga, and Mapangara. To set an example within these communities, we strive for 50 percent participation of teachers in the campaign, as they serve as role models and advocates for positive change.
As part of our efforts, we distributed Certeza cups and plates to nine schools, aiming to improve the students' diet and promote hygiene during school lunches. This initiative was implemented under the National School Feeding Programme, which supports 4,161 beneficiaries with nutritious meals.
Additionally, we provided assistance to hundreds of families seeking shelter in the centres established by the National Institute of Disaster Risk Management and Reduction.
During this campaign, my responsibilities included monitoring the preparation of purchase plans, coordinating with our partner organization, the District Youth Education and Technology Services, and overseeing the distribution of supplies contracted by the programme.
As part of my assignment, I supported the management of funds and the procurement of perishable and non-perishable products for the campaign. Moreover, I provided weekly reports to the World Food Programme (WFP) on the progress of our activities.
Overall, the campaign in Machanga district has had a positive impact. By addressing nutrition, education, child protection and self-sustainability, we aim to bring about lasting change and improve the lives of the people affected by the humanitarian crisis.
For me, volunteering is an act of love for one's neighbour. Having the opportunity to serve without expecting anything in return and witnessing the improvement in the lives of others fills me with pride and a sense of duty. I aspire to create self-supporting activities for the communities, providing training and resources to enable them to become self-sufficient. --Ana Paula Machinha, UN Volunteer Field Monitoring Assistant with WFP, Mozambique
Ramos Cassimo, national UN Volunteer Monitoring Assistant with WFP
Ramos Cassimo has been a Monitoring Assistant with WFP for four years. He shares how he played a crucial role in community recovery and rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy and the cholera outbreak.
Following Cyclone Freddy and the cholera outbreak in Zambézia province, more specifically in the city of Quelimane, I joined efforts to help raise awareness in the communities of the need for clean drinking water and effective garbage collection.
The Province of Zambézia in central Mozambique was severely affected by cyclone Freddy, creating extensive loss of lives and damage to infrastructure. Several families were displaced and housed in temporary accommodation centres.
Across the country, a cholera outbreak was growing exponentially with geographic spread to new districts. The heavy rains due to the cyclone caused resulted in widespread deficiency in basic sanitation and worsened the cholera outbreak.
By the second half of March, the Ministry of Health had reported around 8,000 cumulative cases of cholera in Zambézia, 3,100 of which were admitted to health facilities. Dozens of deaths had also been reported due to cholera.
I was assigned in Mocuba district to help the communities benefit from clinical services, medical supplies and medication, as well as biosecurity in the health units.
WFP led joint humanitarian efforts to sensitize families housed in temporary accommodation centres on cholera prevention measures by the government and partners. As part of these efforts, I supported awareness raising on food and water safety in 19 temporary accommodation centres in the municipal zone of Mocuba. Through my interventions, I reached a total of 13,335 people affected in the district.
We benefited from the activities carried out by volunteers, particularly for families housed in transitional centres. We were provided with information to prevent the spread of disease and protect our families. --a beneficiary of the programme
I am proud that we were able to assist the communities we could access, supporting them in their recovery and rebuilding efforts. My interventions helped prevent the spread of the disease throughout Mocuba district, as a wider segment of the population became aware of available disease prevention methods.
To me, volunteering means helping people to rebuild their lives. Being able to raise awareness in communities affected by Cyclone Freddy and the cholera outbreak in Mozambique has shown me the power of unity and compassion. Volunteers embody the spirit of selflessness, bringing light and support when it is needed the most. --Ramos Cassimo, UN Volunteer Monitoring Assistant with WFP, Mozambique