One month after Cyclone Freddy made landfall for a second time in Mozambique, creating severe disruption to critical services and destroying hard-won development gains, locally led climate action is delivering encouraging results. Thanks to anticipatory action and investment efforts by the government, the number of deaths and people displaced by the cyclone appears to have been lower than in past cyclones of similar magnitude. One of these efforts is the Improving Local Climate Resilience in Mozambique (MERCIM) Program, funded by the European Union and technically supported by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).

“What remains of my house is just a standing wall,” said 35-year-old Ana Momade from Mopeia District, Zambezia Province, one of the most affected areas by Cyclone Freddy.

She avoided physical harm thanks to a community-based early warning system that instructed her to seek shelter at a local school. The school is one of the resilient infrastructures delivered by MERCIM in the province.

“Last year, Cyclone Gombe was the first extreme event to test our work, and now again the infrastructures were tested by Cyclone Freddy; What we do saves lives,” affirmed Rui Semo, Director for Planning and Infrastructure Services, Morrumbala District, another local government supported by MERCIM.

Mozambique ranks among the top three countries in Africa that are most vulnerable to climate change. In the last decade, Mozambique has been hit by six cyclones and two tropical storms, impacting around four million people. Cyclone Freddy is the latest of these, affecting around 800,000 people.

The MERCIM Program was shaped in 2019 by the Ministry of Land and Environment, aimed at four districts (Memba, Mopeia, Morrumbala and Mossuril), in the provinces of Zambezia and Nampula, selected in consultation with the Government of Mozambique and its development partners.

In March this year, the Government of Mozambique and the European Union signed a 4,5-year agreement worth EUR 15 million to expand climate finance in the country through MERCIM. With its expansion, MERCIM+ now covers 10 districts in four provinces (Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Sofala and Zambezia).