By Jamie Livingstone

One year ago yesterday, Cyclone Idai made landfall in the city of Beira in central Mozambique, its torrential rain and winds leaving a trail of destruction across neighbouring Malawi and Zimbabwe. Only six weeks later, Cyclone Kenneth – the strongest cyclone on record to hit Africa – battered northern Mozambique.

In total, 3.3 million people were left in desperate need of humanitarian assistance across some of the world’s poorest countries.

When we hear the phrase “climate emergency”, we should think of countries like Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe: countries with populations which have done the least to cause the climate crisis yet are the ones on the front lines of weather events supercharged by it.

It is not just the last year which has seen devastation across southern Africa. Over the last decade, these countries have faced severe droughts, as well as floods, on a repeat basis. The vast majority of farms are family-run and depend on rain-fed agriculture. In 2016, I met entire families in Malawi left with no crops due to drought, and therefore no food and no income.

Since December last year, torrential rain and flash floods once again hit communities in Mozambique still reeling from the impact of the cyclones. Farmers who had painstakingly replanted their fields following the cyclone had lost their crops all over again.

These disasters drive inequality. The poorest communities live in poorly constructed shelters and in areas more vulnerable to flooding, with no insurance or savings to recover. In contrast, wealthier people tend to have houses built on higher ground with concrete walls and stronger roofs.

Take Mozambique, where 46 per cent of the population lives in chronic poverty and nearly three-quarters do not have access to basic sanitation. Footage and stories from Beira showed an almost unimaginably bleak situation this time last year and, for many, it remains so.

These human consequences of the climate crisis often feel distant to us here in Scotland, though we’re seeing with coronavirus how distant problems can soon end up impacting much closer to home.

We have a moral duty to place those already most affected by the climate crisis front and centre when the UN’s climate talks – known as COP 26 – come to Glasgow in November. It would be easy to dismiss the event as "just another talking shop". But for Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, this year’s COP has never been more important.

Central to the negotiations on the banks of the Clyde will be the level of financial support for those impacted. A lack of action helped derail last year’s COP in Madrid.

There’s chronic underfunding to help people impacted adapt through initiatives like establishing coastal defences and supporting smallholder farmers to develop resilience to more extreme weather. But some climate impacts are simply too big to adapt to.

One year on from suffering US$3.2 billion loss and damage in Mozambique – equivalent to half of Mozambique’s national budget or the impact of 23 Hurricane Katrinas hitting the United States – there are currently no dedicated funds to help it or other countries recover and rebuild – so-called Loss and Damage finance.

Rich countries, like the UK, cannot simply divert money they have already promised to support poorer countries escape poverty; this money must be genuinely additional.

Scotland can lead the way by sourcing new money to increase our own Climate Justice Fund, which has been frozen since 2016, while also dedicating money to support communities and countries to recover from unavoidable loss and damage.

November’s talks will be critical if the global community is to end its collective failure in providing the resources needed for poorer countries to recover.

Jamie Livingstone is head of Oxfam Scotland