The road to reconstruction

 By Marilia Cioni

Earlier this year, two cyclones of enormous power, named Idai and Kenneth, struck the north coast of Mozambique in as many months, and were followed by weeks of torrential rain. They claimed innumerable lives, destroyed thousands of houses, wiped out infrastructure in seven of the country’s provinces and ruined 700,000 hectares of farmland

A coordinator from the United Nations said flooded Mozambique was like “an ocean within the continent.” Mozambique faced its unprecedented humanitarian crisis with “extraordinary courage,” in the words of UN secretary-general, António Guterres. The Conference of Donors, made up of UN agencies, financial institutions, foundations, development partners and businesses, was held in the city of Beira and raised about a third of the more than $3 billion needed for reconstruction. On many fronts, though, reconstruction has begun already.

Cyclone Kenneth caused enormous damage to the infrastructure of Cabo Delgado and about 18,000 displaced people

“The coast road from Pemba airport to the city centre and its harbour was totally destroyed,” says Franco Picciani, operations manager at Eni Rovuma Basin, which has a logistics base in Pemba. The damage brought the city’s economy to a standstill, making daily life hard for locals and any commercial activity or work at the port impossible. “Transport and normal commercial activity were at risk. The road was mostly unusable. This main artery also passed through the village and the big potholes put locals in danger.”

The coast road was so full of potholes that I couldn’t go down it to get just a few kilometres from the airport to the town centre, I had to change my route constantly and make massive detours. I could barely do my job

Fay Machamba

Fay Machamba is a motorcycle-taxi driver

Official data show that in certain areas in the province of Cabo Delgado, the cyclones destroyed up to 90% of transport infrastructure. President Nyusi declared that restoring the road network was an absolute priority, due to its importance in daily life and to helping the economy recover. Eni answered the call, providing its equipment and expertise. We rebuilt the coast road in less than two months,” continues Franco Picciani, “doing all the civil engineering work and restoring the main artery into the city. We work in the area. We have a logistics base here. It’s home to us. When the area needed help, we didn’t stop to think about it for a minute. It goes without saying that we should look after the community we work in.”

Life in the Paquitequete district revolves around the main street. It's a connecting zone, a commercial area, a space for social life. Cyclones had interrupted everything

Eni’s support in the emergency was not limited to rebuilding the road. “We also helped the World Food Programme, which used our logistics base and warehouses to provide essential food and goods,” explains Stefano Saviano, sustainability manager at Eni Rovuma Basin. That is not all. Eni also decided to speed up its work on existing projects, which the destruction wrought by the cyclones had made more pressing. “We were planning to renovate some schools and training centres in the district next year. After they were damaged by cyclone Kenneth, we decided to speed up our planning in order to start work on them as soon as possible, and provide school material so that the children could carry on their education.” Our commitment is very much in line with our “dual flag” approach: growing together by facing difficulties together.

Eni's technicians visit a school in Pemba in view of the renovation works

READ MORE: Bringing education to Mozambique’s children by Simonetta Sandri

about the author
Marilia Cioni
Marilia is a content producer and press officer at Eni, where she focuses on Exploration, Upstream and Technical Activities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Previously she worked for Italian news agency Agi, where she was in charge of international relations.