Cabo Delgado: Water Shortage Adds Stress To Conflict In Mozambique Province

25 Oct 2021 by The Water Diplomat
PEMBA, Mozambique

Continuing extreme weather events such as cyclones and floods are causing water shortages and are severely impacting a population already at risk in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

This region of the country has been the site of an insurgency of radical Islamists with links to ISIL who have been terrorising the province with extreme violence including child beheadings.

As a result, an estimated 800,000 people, or about one-third of the population, have left their homes from more rural areas and are now settling on the outskirts of the bigger cities. This causes severe issues when it comes to sanitation as there are no existing clean water distribution systems.

As water and health facilities are being hit, Dominik Stillhart, director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said 11 October:: “A lot of people depend on this type of water and this is definitely not to any standards of public health”. He then added: “I think it is very important to pay very serious attention to what is happening here, especially in the North of Mozambique.”

While some of the displaced persons head to the cities, others go to the islands like the archipelago of Ibo which is still recovering from a 2019 Category 4 hurricane that killed 41 people and destroyed the only existing hospital. The group of islands has only one doctor and one health centre as tens of thousands continue to arrive from mainland.

The lack of access to safe water, worsened by massive population displacements, has led to an increase in cases of cholera and diarrhoea. With disease numbers skyrocketing, diarrhoea is now the second cause of death among children under five.

The spike in diseases caused by lack of access to safe water is being met by an overstretched health system, unable to cope with population movements and the damage caused by conflict and extreme weather events.

The ICRC is trying to rehabilitate water and health infrastructures in coordination with local authorities and a new hospital on Ibo is being built. It is being planned to try to withstand the increasing number and severity of extreme weather events.

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