Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has argued that the international financial response to the Covid-19 emergency should include debt relief, support for budgetary liquidity, and interventions in resilience and adaptation to climate change.
Nyusi was speaking on Tuesday during a High Level Dialogue, held virtually, and organized by the African Development Bank (ADB), on the Covid-19 and Climate Change Emergencies in Africa.
He stressed that Africa in general, and Mozambique in particular, are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. “Climatic events that were rare yesterday are now ever more frequent and intense”, he said. “We suffer from prolonged drought, intense heat, floods, cyclones, and associated factors, such as rising sea levels, saline intrusion and bush fires, resulting in loss of human life, and the destruction of public and private infrastructures, including health units, schools, roads, bridges, and electricity transmission lines”.
He cited cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which hit Mozambique in March and April 2019, as examples of extreme climatic events. The two cyclones caused 689 deaths and an economic impact of over three billion US dollars.
In the 2020-2021 rainy season”, Nyusi added, “We have been hit by three tropical cyclones: Chalane, Eloise and Guambe. Covid-19 has worsened still further the negative impacts on our economy”.
Tourism, he continued, was one of the sectors most vulnerable to natural disasters. The damage done to Mozambican tourism, he claimed, had contributed to reducing the country’s Gross Domestic Product, and was slowing down the prospects of achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The President estimated that, over the past 20 years, natural disasters have cost Mozambique about 100 million dollars a year.
“In a scenario of scant resources, worsened by Covid-19, we have had to concentrate investment on health and the economy, with very little for resilience and adaptation to climate change”, he said. “Our budget has suffered further pressure due to the decline in tax revenue, indebtedness and limited access to international finance”.
“It is imperative that the current scenario be reversed urgently”, said Nyusi, “by increasing the financing for interventions of climate adaptation and resilience, and for post-pandemic economic recovery, so as to put our medium and long term development goals back on the rails”.