COVID-19 outbreak compounding existing needs
The first case of COVID-19 was declared in Mozambique on 22 March 2020. As of 9 September, the country had 4,557 confirmed cases and 27 deaths. The outbreak has now reached all the 11 provinces of the country, with Maputo province and Maputo town, Cabo Delgado and Nampula being the hardest-hit. Mozambique’s President, Filipe Nyusi, declared a first State of Emergency from 1 April to 31 July, announcing a number of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. On 5 August, the Government declared a second State of Emergency from 8 August to 6 September. The second state of emergency also enabled the continued enforcement of restrictive measures to prevent and control the pandemic including mandatory wearing of face masks in public spaces, social distancing measures, and limits on social gatherings and recreational activities. As of 7 September, President Nyusi declared a situation of public calamity for an indefinite period of time, in the framework of the new disaster management law. The declaration was accompanied by a red alert, the maximum level of warning decreed in the event of an imminent large-scale threat. In this period, all the preventive measures against COVID-19 declared during the state of emergency will remain in force while the Government is now planning to reopen a number of services and economic sectors that were closed down during the state of emergency.
COVID-19 arrived in Mozambique at a time when humanitarian needs were already rising due to consecutive climatic shocks in multiple parts of the country and growing violence and insecurity in Cabo Delgado. A year and a half on from Cyclone Idai and Kenneth, over 100,000 displaced people are still living in 76 temporary sites across six provinces in the central and northern regions of the country. People living in confinement, camps or camp like settings, IDPs in resettlement sites or within host communities, with limited access to services, are currently at heightened risk as their right to information, access to healthcare, hygiene, protection services and livelihoods are constrained.
Moreover, COVID-19 is currently escalating an already alarming food security situation and exhausting families’ coping capacities. Households are likely to exhaust what little savings they had and resort to negative coping mechanisms, including increasing child marriage and transactional sex. Following the country-wide closure of schools on 23 March, 235,000 children are no longer accessing critical school feeding programmes and malnutrition is expected to worsen in the period ahead.
Prior to COVID-19, multiple disease outbreaks—including cholera and malaria—were already stretching Mozambique’s weak health systems and 94 health centres were damaged during the cyclones. In Cabo Delgado, over 1,500 cumulative cases of cholera and 25 cumulative deaths have been reported since the beginning of the outbreak in January 2020 until the end of July. Critical services—such as sexual and reproductive health care, immunization activities and continuity of care for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and cholera—are expected to be disrupted as resources shift to the COVID-19 response, potentially increasing maternal and infant deaths. Access to clean water and appropriate sanitation is a major challenge in the country, where 80 per cent of urban dwellers live in informal settlements.
COVID-19 and its secondary consequences are also increasing protection concerns, particularly for women and children. At the same time, across the country, as stressors rise, the risk of intimate partner and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is increasing. Those with limited mobility, particularly the elderly and disabled, already at increased risk from COVID-19 and may face further barriers to access life-saving services due to movement restrictions.
In response to the arising humanitarian needs, on 4 June 2020, the Humanitarian Country Team, in collaboration with the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC), launched a Flash Appeal for COVID-19 aimed at providing urgent life-saving and life-supporting assistance to 2.96 million people until December 2020. The appeal supports the Government-led response to COVID-19, addressing both the immediate public health crisis and the secondary impacts of the pandemic on vulnerable Mozambicans. Out of US$68 million appeal, $16 million are destined for the health sector, and $52 million for non-health sectors, especially food security & livelihoods and water, sanitation and hygiene. The COVID-19 Flash Appeal reflects an in-depth elaboration of the requirements for Mozambique that are outlined in the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19.