Guest post: “Cyclone Idai is possibly the worst weather-related disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere”
A month after Cyclone Idai swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, Karen Garvin writes about how the DEC help in times of great need.
Communications Consultant, The Disasters Emergency Committee
Posted on: Mon 15-Apr-19 13:50:25
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Just one month ago (15 March) Cyclone Idai swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, killing more than 961 people and leaving 2.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Strong winds and widespread flooding ripped apart roads, houses, schools and health facilities, and submerged vast swathes of agricultural land.
Cyclone Idai is possibly the worst weather-related disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere, devastating massive areas and displacing hundreds of thousands of people across the region.
As flood levels begin to recede, work to clear debris, reopen roads and reconnect electricity and water supplies has started. Some people who fled their homes as flood waters rose are now returning home.
Lucia, a mother of six children, is one of many who has just returned home to try and pick up the pieces. Her home, near the village of Tica in Mozambique, has been completely flooded.
Lucia, 33, said, “The storm started and I thought it was simple rain, but it wasn’t normal, it was torrential. On the third day I ran with my kids to shelter in a school.
“I have lost my crops, my clothes and the house. I only saved my children. I felt my heart drop.
"I am trying to find ways to survive with my children, but it has been a big problem. It is hard to find ways of getting food for my children. For me and my community I would like to receive food and shelter.
“The food will help us be strong so we can rebuild our houses and lives.”
I am trying to find ways to survive with my children, but it has been a big problem. It is hard to find ways of getting food for my children. For me and my community I would like to receive food and shelter.
Across the three countries there are now 230,000 displaced people. Micaela is one of these. She and her daughter Georgina are now living in a tent at a camp for displaced people in Beira, Mozambique.
Micaela, 22, says, “The water started small, but it continued to rise. First it was around my ankles but then it came up to my armpits. We then climbed on top of a house.
“Now I am in a camp. I am happy to have a tent which was given to me by CARE. I need a house, but not in Buzi – Buzi is not happy. I need a home in another place.”
In Mozambique alone, 3,300 schools have also been destroyed, which means that more than 151,000 students no longer have a school to go to. Child safety is now a priority as children no longer have the protection of schools. Some children have been separated from their families and many are living in crowded displacement areas with strangers. DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) member charities are creating child-friendly spaces where children can play safely.
On top of the devastation, cyclone survivors are now facing the threat of waterborne diseases. There have been reports of people drinking stagnant water from street puddles. One shelter that is home to 3,000 people reportedly has just six toilets. Reported cholera cases have escalated to 2,772 in Mozambique (9 April).
At times of very great need, the DEC brings together a unique alliance of 14 of the UK’s leading aid charities and broadcasters to maximise fundraising and quickly deliver effective emergency relief.
The initial focus of the relief effort is to save lives - DEC member charities have been helping with the search and rescue operations, delivering food as well as working closely with national partners to provide emergency shelter materials, blankets, urgent health assistance and trauma counselling.
Supplying clean water remains a significant challenge and the Disasters Emergency Committee’s member charities are rushing to deliver drinking water, toilets and handwashing facilities.
DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed said: “As always the British public has been hugely generous, and we are so very grateful for their donations. The full scale of the disaster in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe has yet to become clear but we do know that this is developing into one of the most pressing humanitarian emergencies in the world at the moment. Whilst conditions remain challenging, aid is getting through and DEC members are working hard to reach those who so desperately need help.”
To support the DEC’s Cyclone Idai appeal go to dec.org.uk
- £30 can provide blankets to keep two families warm.
- £50 could provide a family with food for one month.
- £100 could help build toilet and washing facilities for families who lost their homes
Photo credit: Josh Estey/CARE
By Karen Garvin