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Mozambique Flood 2000: Critical Analysis

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1. Introduction

It can reasonably be assumed that the economic prowess of a nation is a vital aspect of its ability to cope with and recover from natural disasters. As history has shown us, economic powerhouses often have the necessary resources to ensure a quick and effective recovery from damages incurred whilst less economically sound nations tend to be much more limited in this respect. The question then arises as to how the economic limitations of a country impact its ability to effectively manage and recover from such misfortune. Particularly, how did Mozambique's economic situation in 2000 impede its efforts to effectively mitigate damages and recuperate promptly from the devastating floods that year? Indeed, what were the deeper economic consequences of the disaster on such a nation?

2. The Disaster

In early 2000, Mozambique witnessed its worst floods in 50 years that devastated the southern parts of the country, affecting a quarter of its population as well killing 700 (Gall, 2004). According to the BBC, as a direct result of the flood, approximately 1 million Mozambicans faced insecurity over basics needs such a food, clean drinking water, and shelter (2000). The floods caused particularly immense damage to the nation's agricultural and infrastructural systems, including water treatment and supply systems (Mirza, 2003, p. 240). In terms of agriculture, the population lost a minimum of a third of it staple food supply (maize) and 80% of its cattle (Mirza, 2003). Thousands of homes were lost to the floods, especially in the densely settled capital of Maputo, forcing thousands to be relocated to temporary settlements (BBC News, 2000). Clearly, the severity of these floods cannot be stressed enough and the explicit damages and human suffering caused stretch far beyond these points. However, let us, for the sake of argument, turn our attention towards the more implicit effects of the disaster; the longer term consequences that can be derived from the event that continue to impact on the Mozambican people today.

3. Economic Outlook: Before The Floods

According to a World Bank Report by the organization`s Hazard Management Unit, Mozambique ranks as one of the poorest countries in the world with nearly 70% of the population living below the US$0.40 per day poverty line (2005). The country`s economy has faced adversity for most of its history particularly during its years of civil strife from 1975-1992, although the nation did experience an economic turnaround in the post-war year leading to the floods of 2000- with its high growth rates (averaging 8%) being hailed by many as an `economic miracle`(BBC News, 2000). It seemed as though the country had finally tackled it economic woes and that it was on the path to economic success and self-sufficiency. However, prior to the floods, Mozambique was still far from self sufficient with approximately half of all of its public spending capital being sourced through international donors (Wiles, Selvester, Fidalgo, 2005). In essence the country was barely scraping by economically, but progress was definitely being made in the right direction. So, how does an economically wanting country handle such an extreme instance as the floods?

4. Economic outlook: Post-Disaster

Here arises one of the most frequented debates facing the continent of Africa today. Many African nations, such as Mozambique, face the continual dilemma of further increasing their debt burden in order to achieve economic self-sufficiency through economic development. In instances such as the flood crisis in Mozambique, this dilemma is further compounded as it leaves the nation with no choice but to draw in foreign support. For example, immediately after the flood, direct losses were estimated to be approximately $270 million and reconstruction



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