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Cyclone Kenneth Sweeps Through Mozambique

Country endures second cyclone in just over a month, and local groups are working to respond.


Cyclone Kenneth makes landfall over Mozambique on Thursday, displacing thousands just a month after Cyclone Idai devastated the country. (Satellite image courtesy of NASA/EPA)

Cyclone Kenneth slammed into Mozambique’s Northern Coast on Thursday, just five weeks after the country was pummeled by powerful Cyclone Idai, from which the country is only just beginning to recover.

At least 800 people died in Mozambique and neighboring countries as a result of the Cyclone Idai and the floods that followed.

This week, winds from Cyclone Kenneth escalated to those equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane, weakening before coming ashore, but are still the strongest recorded to date in Mozambique. The storm formed in the Indian Ocean earlier this week, and three people were killed from storm impacts on the islands of Comoros as the cyclone swept through.

The storm system is expected to bring torrential rains throughout the rest of the week, and the northern city of Pemba is expected to get more than three feet of rain, more than the area typically sees in a year.

Local groups, like Health Alliance International, a nonprofit working to strengthen health systems in the region, were watching the cyclone’s impacts with a wary eye.

“The idea that Mozambique’s already under-resourced health, education, and public works systems might be further burdened by the impact of a second cyclone so soon after Idai, highlights the importance of reinforcing the resilience of these critical public institutions, before and long after any storm is on its way,” said Health Alliance International’s Adam Granato.

Kenneth made landfall north of Cyclone Idai’s path through Beira, in the central part of Mozambique.

“The distance from Beira is significant, so there are no formal storm preparations currently happening in Sofala or Manica Provinces. But HAI along with the international response community in Beira is watching the storm closely, and we highly encourage any responders to coordinate closely with Cabo Delgado’s Provincial Health Service, who will be around long after the cyclone hits,” according to Tracy Woodman, Health Alliance International’s Deputy Director.

A 20-pallet shipment of medical aid is en route to Maputo, Mozambique, to support the work of Health Alliance International.

Contained in the shipment are more than 1 million defined daily doses of antibiotics, as well as essential medicines to manage chronic conditions like diabetes. Also included are oral rehydration salts, which will be used to help rehydrate people recovering from diseases like cholera.

The disease is endemic to the region and more than 6,300 cases have been reported and eight deaths have occurred in Mozambique, according to the World Health Organization.

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