Tropical Cyclone Idai wipes out services in Mozambique

Above: A World Vision Child Protection Officer uses games and songs as an opportunity to observer for children who may require support. Photo Credit: World Vision Australia.

Above: A World Vision Child Protection Officer uses games and songs as an opportunity to observer for children who may require support. Photo Credit: World Vision Australia.

Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique in March 2019, causing severe destruction to important social and economic infrastructure in Buzi and Nhamatanda Districts. While the destruction of physical infrastructure was clearly visible, the often-unseen impacts on traumatised people were also great. 

As part of the Australian Humanitarian Partnership’s humanitarian response, World Vision Australia in partnership with World Vision Mozambique, focused on supporting WASH, education and child protection. The child protection aspects of the response are presented in more detail below. 

World Vision played a significant role in contributing to the re-establishment of the Government of Mozambique’s social support systems. World Vision also expanded the reach of the AHP response to include Nhamatanda district, including in the new resettlement sites of Metuchira, Cura and Muda Nune.

The focus was on reinstating referral systems to ensure people in need of care were able to access support from health, welfare and legal services. In the case of children, those in need of support were typically identified through observation in resettlement centres and child friendly spaces, during field monitoring or through information received from community members.   

Within the new resettlement areas of Metuchira, Cura and Muda Nune there were no activities for children and there was limited access to basic services such as hospitals and playgrounds. Additionally, resettled children showed a reluctance to interact with local children due to issues of stigma. 

World Vision began working with local government and local chiefs to establish Child Friendly Spaces and to engage the community on the importance of recreational activities for children, life skills (for adolescents), basic psychosocial support, and informal learning activities.  

Above: A Government Mobile Registrar Service visits Nhamatanda, allowing residents lodge a request for new birth certificate. Photo credit: World Vision Australia.

Above: A Government Mobile Registrar Service visits Nhamatanda, allowing residents lodge a request for new birth certificate. Photo credit: World Vision Australia.

Local community leaders provided plots of land for children’s activities, which community members then cleared for use.  Committee members were selected and volunteers identified to work with the children. World Vision staff visited families across the resettlement areas, encouraging caregivers to send children to school. They also provided information on how to access available services and how to replace documentation such as birth certificates, which many people lost during the cyclone.  

Children with specific health needs were identified for referral, as were children who were unaccompanied or separated from their families, those who had lost their families and those living within very vulnerable households, such as with elderly caregivers and / or caregivers with disabilities.

Above: Child Friendly Spaces provide support for children to continue their studies and to play and interact with other children, all of which are important to help them through the trauma associated with a disaster. Three-year old twins, Florencia and Manuel, and their parents have been living in a resettlement camp in Sofala Province. Both Florencia and Manuel have received health care as a result of their attendance at a Child Friendly Space.

Above: Child Friendly Spaces provide support for children to continue their studies and to play and interact with other children, all of which are important to help them through the trauma associated with a disaster. Three-year old twins, Florencia and Manuel, and their parents have been living in a resettlement camp in Sofala Province. Both Florencia and Manuel have received health care as a result of their attendance at a Child Friendly Space.

The referral system worked differently for different issues. Cases of separated children were referred to the Ministry of Social Action who identified the origin of the child, obtained information about the family and reintegrated the child back into the family. Children without birth certificate documents are referred to the Civil Register to ensure that their fundamental rights were guaranteed.

Child abuse was reported through World Vision’s global system and simultaneously to Social Welfare Services, Health Services and the police for further investigation. Children with chronic illnesses and critical health issues were referred to the nearest health centre for treatment.  

Regular home visits and follow-ups were undertaken to ensure proper care was provided to children at risk of exploitation, abuse, violence or neglect. The World Vision Child Protection Officer was also trained in disability inclusiveness to support meaningful participation of children and intentionally include children with disabilities in the activities. 

Progress

As at the end of June 2019, 84 children had been referred to relevant services, including 76 orphans who were later reintegrated into their respective families and/or supported by the social welfare system. A total of 28 children returned to school. 

With the support and leadership of the local government, a process of reunification of children and their families was undertaken. Nhamatanda Social Welfare Services reported last month, that with the support of partners, including the Australian Humanitarian Partnership, all separated children from Buzi District were successfully returned to their families.