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Collective approaches to communication and community engagement in the Mozambique Cyclone Idai response

Research report

Written by Oliver Lough, Amanda Gray Meral

Research report

Recent years have seen a growing emphasis within the humanitarian sector on better communication and community engagement (CCE): the idea that communities affected by crisis should be involved in a meaningful two-way dialogue with the humanitarians seeking to assist them. As this trend has developed, several actors have worked to emphasise the potential for collective approaches to CCE – supplementing or integrating existing agency or programme-level activities – to improve the quality and effectiveness of humanitarian responses.

In March and April 2019, Mozambique was hit by two powerful tropical cyclones. The first, Cyclone Idai, made landfall near Beira City on 14 March, impacting parts of Sofala, Manica and Tete provinces. The second, Cyclone Kenneth, made landfall on 25 April in the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula. The severity of both Idai and Kenneth were unprecedented, as was their arrival so close to each other. The cyclones were respectively the deadliest and the most powerful to hit the African continent since records began. In Mozambique, their combined impact killed 648 people, destroyed almost 300,000 homes and 800,000 hectares of crops, and significantly impacted schools and other public infrastructure.

This case study examines the case of the collective approach to CCE established in Mozambique following the onset of Cyclone Idai, focusing on emergency response and early recovery in the 12 months following the cyclone. It aims to understand what lessons can be drawn from efforts to establish a collective approach to CCE within a rapid scale-up, natural hazard-related disaster with a substantial international presence.

Oliver Lough, Santos Alfredo Nassivila and Amanda Gray Meral