IMF gives Mozambique $118 million for Cyclone Idai rebuilding

FILE PHOTO: Flooded fields are seen from the air near Beira, Mozambique, in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

MAPUTO (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund will grant Mozambique a $118.2 million credit facility to help it rebuild infrastructure after a devastating cyclone that killed hundreds of people and flattened whole villages, the lender said on Friday.

More than 1,000 people have been reported killed by the storm in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi after the worst cyclone in decades lashed the eastern Indian Ocean coast in March with devastating winds of up to 170 km per hour (105 miles per hour).

The heavy flooding caused by torrential rain and winds that pounded villages and cities, especially in the Mozambique port town of Beira, has left the improvised southern African nation desperate for cash to kick-start its recovery plan.

The World Bank estimates the affected countries will need over $2 billion to recover.

Mozambique's $337 million humanitarian response plan, largely made up of an appeal for $281 million after the cyclone hit, covers only 23 percent of the funds needed.

"The financial assistance is intended to address large budgetary and external financing gaps arising from reconstruction needs after Cyclone Idai, which caused significant loss of life and infrastructure damage," it said.

Mozambique also faces a cholera epidemic after the cyclone wiped out water facilities.

Cholera is endemic to Mozambique, which has had regular outbreaks over the past five years. About 2,000 people were infected in the last outbreak, which ended in February 2018, according to the World Health Organisation.

(Writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Gareth Jones and David Evans)