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Taking matters into their own hands: women work together to generate income after Cyclone Idai

(adapted from stories provided by Plan International)

Dondo district in Sofala Province, Mozambique, was one of the areas most affected by cyclone Idai in 2019 as strong winds tore apart houses and destroyed crop fields. Many women who were previously dependent on their small subsistence farms for food and as a source of income were left with little-to-no means of providing for their families.

60-year-old Amelia was born in Zambezia Province but has been living in Dondo district for the last 4 years (since 2016). Having felt the effects of Cyclone Idai, she is one of the many women who lost everything because of the intense floods. Still helping to provide for her 8 children and 3 orphaned grandchildren, Amelia recalls the difficult moments she went through and how she has managed to surpass those difficulties by learning new skills in accommodation centers made by the government and partners, including Plan International, and supported by UNFPA, for individuals displaced by Cyclone Idai. 

“During Cyclone Idai the floods were so intense that I lost my farms in Buzi, Tika and Dondo. I was heartbroken because my family would have to go without food and I had nowhere to ask for help because everyone was dealing with their own losses. It was one of the most difficult periods in my life, and I was not sure my family would be able to survive past the floods,” says Amelia. 

Within the accommodation center, activities are underway that are supporting women like Amelia to generate even a small income through the production of straw baskets, sewing and carpet making for selling.

Funded by the Embassy of Norway, through UNFPA, the United Nations Populations Fund, Post Cyclone Idai and Kenneth Recovery Project to restore dignity and build resilience through GBV prevention & response services for women and girls, implemented by Plan International Mozambique in Dondo, Nhamatanda and Buzi districts, is set up in accommodation centers and safe spaces for women, and aids in the provision of raw materials, sewing machines and basic business training.


Survivors of Cyclone Idai generate income by producing and selling hand-woven baskets ©Plan International / Lidia Langa

Since the COVID-19 outbreak in Mozambique, the project has also provided women in these centers and safe spaces with training, so they can produce homemade face masks, which are being sold locally to the community and helping to prevent the transmission of the virus. 

“At my age, there are very few options for employment and I never went to school. Living in the accommodation center, I have been able to learn new skills that have helped me feed my family even during this pandemic. This is a blessing because I never thought that we would recover past the cyclone. Though I have lost all my crops, I can now make products to sell and earn an income to buy food and other necessities for my family,” says Amelia.

Moving forward, the project aims to support up to 216 women with new skills, knowledge and opportunities, so they can build their financial independence, withstanding whatever shocks or stresses come their way.