Residents of Tingonhamen, a community in Mozambique’s southern region are digging out soil to create a water reservoir in the hope that the long awaited rainy season will mean they can store some water.
A prolonged drought which started in March 2015 has scorched Mozambique and parts of southern Africa, wiping out livestock, and pushing up food prices among other things over the last year, affecting the livelihood of millions of Africans.
The 2015/2016 El Nino weather system, the Pacific Ocean phenomenon associated with droughts, storms and floods, baked southern Africa before ending in May this year.
“This is an example of the impact of drought on the community, not only impacts water in terms of access but also the quality of water. So this is a community that is digging the reservoir in anticipation that there will be some rain and they can catch some water,” said Tito Bonde, an emergency and disaster risk reduction specialist at UNICEF.
Schools in Tingonhamen are working with the UN children’s agency UNICEF to have trucks deliver water to institutions in the meantime.
“With more resources then we’ll be not only able to provide water trucking, but to do deep borehole drilling or multi-functional water systems that can also provide water for household use but also for the livestock so they can have access to water,” said Bonde.
The drought has hit much of the southern African region including the maize belt in South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy and the top producer of the staple grain.
In South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe, last year’s poor rains were followed by an El Nino-driven drought that has delayed planting and stunted crops.
An estimated 31.6 million people across the region are struggling to feed themselves, the Red Cross has said.
The United Nations’ food agency FAO, said last month that it needed $730 million over the next 12 months for relief in seven southern African countries including Mozambique.
The arrival of La Nina, a weather pattern, expected later this year, which usually brings floods to southern Africa could worsen the situation, the U.N. has said.