Confronting Climate Related Disasters:  the Role of Youth and Education 

The case of Cyclone IDAI in Mozambique

March 2019 will stay in the history of Mozambique for tragic reasons. An estimated 1,000 people were killed in the IDAI cyclone. More than 400,000 people were affected, having lost their homes, schools, hospitals, businesses, among many affected sectors. As a consequence of the cyclone, many families were decimated.

Minimising harm

Mozambique is a country which, due to its geographical location, is hit particularly hard by climate change. Large Mozambican cities such as Maputo, Beira, Maxixe, Inhambane, Pemba, Tete, Xai-Xai are by the sea.

Hope for employment, further education, better health care, and better living condition feeds a strong rural exodus. Cities are overcrowded and people desperate for housing end up building in flood-prone areas.

Following the announcement of IDAI and the prediction of the catastrophe, several youth movements called on people to leave the risk zones. Fortunately, it was possible to save many human lives, as many people heard the message and moved to the safe zones created to address the emergency.

Youth involvement in assisting cyclone victims

Mozambicans came together and were on various fronts to provide assistance to the affected populations throughout the country.

Young people led the donation process to support cyclone victims. They participated in campaigns and went from “house to house” to collect food and clothes for the victims.Young people also helped to load 250 tonnes of goods on the ship from Maputo bound for Beira, which was the most affected city. 

In emergency accommodation centres, youths supported the reunification of families who had been separated during the emergency, organised recreational activities to relieve the stress of traumatised children and supported psychosocial assistance. 

On the streets, young people supported the cleaning and helped restore a good living environment as the heavy rains had dragged debris all over the city. 

Lack of awareness and preparation resulted in the loss of many human lives

If we do not act urgently, we will have more disasters. In  Mozambique, entire regions are prone to flooding, others to drought. This is a clear warning sign for people to be alert. Cyclone IDAI showed us that we are not prepared to deal with climate related disasters. I believe that the example of Mozambique can help many others. Some people resisted moving from their homes in areas considered at risk because they had no idea of ​​the impact the cyclone would have. Authorities were caught off guard and the police and defense forces failed to evacuate people to safe zones. Lack of awareness and preparation resulted in the loss of many human lives. 

The role of education in tackling the climate crisis

It is impossible to think about minimising the impact of climate the climate crisis without thinking about education. One of the biggest challenges is to increase the knowledge about the catastrophic phenomena that the world will continue to experience if we do not change our behaviours.

There is a lack of awareness on the part of the population. In Mozambique people continue to build their homes in risky areas and communities continue to practice uncontrolled burning and deforestation for agriculture for example. It is urgent that we educate people and ensure that they understand that the climate crisis is real and that only by joining forces and understanding the various phenomena can it be possible to minimise the damage.


We cannot tackle the climate crisis without human capital development

But how can we educate people about the climate crisis when some students have not been properly taught to read and write? How can education foster more responsible behaviour and practical actions when the curriculum is outdated and purely theoretical? We cannot tackle the climate crisis without human capital development. It is time for governments around the world to make binding commitments and invest massively in climate education. Education must play a key role in responding to the climate emergency, and curriculums should equip and empower all learners with an understanding of climate and sustainable development.  Movimento de Educação Para Todos (MEPT) and GCE must advocate for climate education for all!

As young people, it is urgent that we formalize our global movement, beyond the diverse youth movements affiliated to the GCE and beyond national education coalitions.  Education for Climate must be at the top of the 2030 Agenda, or we will be sorry to see the world increasingly destroyed with each passing day.

Author:  Osvaldo Mauaie, is a Youth Advocate part of the Movimento de Educação Para Todos (MEPT) in Mozambique



Leave a Reply