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Cyclone Idai: CERF allocates US$20M to ramp up humanitarian response

19 Mar 2019
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Lina and her baby had to flee their home after Cyclone Idai hit Beira in Mozambique last Thursday. The roof had come off and the rain had flooded their home. They are now staying at a shelter, receiving food from WFP. Credit: WFP/Deborah Nguyen

UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock today allocated US$20 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to ramp up the humanitarian response to Tropical Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The bulk of the funding will kickstart the response in worst-hit Mozambique.

The cyclone made landfall near Beira City, Sofala Province in central Mozambique, on the night of 14 to 15 March. Prior to the landfall, the system brought heavy rains and flooding to the three countries resulting in the displacement of thousands of people, loss of life and the destruction of property. The impact of the cyclone itself upon making landfall as well as its aftermath brought extensive destruction to the Mozambican city of Beira as well as parts of Inhambane, Manica, Sofala, Tete and Zambezia provinces, as river levels rose and caused further flooding.

So far, at least 202 people have died, and the death toll is expected to rise in the days ahead. An estimated 260,000 children have reportedly been affected, according to UNICEF, and are in desperate conditions.

The situation is likely to deteriorate, and the number of people affected is likely to increase, as weather experts predict heavy rainfall in Sofala and Manica provinces from 19 to 21 March. Flood waters may rise up to around eight metres and at least 350,000 people are at risk, according to media reports quoting the President. There are also growing concerns regarding the potential effects of the overflow of the Marowanyati Dam in Zimbabwe on water levels in Mozambique.


UNICEF has stepped in to support thousands of families affected by floods in the southern region of Malawi. “In an emergency such as this, children suffer the heaviest impact and are at increased risk of malnutrition and disease”, says Michele Paba, UNICEF Malawi Acting Deputy Representative. “We are therefore providing water treatment supplies, cholera medicines and supplies, soap, buckets, and temporary latrines to be installed in the schools, churches and health centers where displaced families are being sheltered. We will be screening children for malnutrition and providing the necessary treatment”. Credit: UNICEF

Zimbabwe and Malawi were also severely affected. In Zimbabwe, at least 82 people have died and 200 have been injuried, mainly in Chimanimani. 217 people are reportedly missing. At least 923 homes have been destroyed in Chimanimani, Mutasa, Mutare, Chipinge, Buhera, Chikomba, Gutu and Bikita districts. In Chimanimani alone, eight bridges have been destroyed.

In Malawi, over 922,900 people were affected, with 56 deaths and 577 injuries recorded. More than 82,700 people are estimated to be displaced, while rapid needs assessments continue in the hardest-hit areas to verify initial estimates and determine the number of people in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.

“The CERF funds will complement the three Governments’ immediate efforts to provide life-saving and life-sustaining assistance to affected communities, including in health, food security, protection, nutrition and education,” said ERC Lowcock. “Vulnerable groups such as children, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people with disabilities, and those affected by chronic illnesses will be prioritised.


In Beira, a school has turned into a shelter for over 70 families. WFP is providing them with food. Credit: WFP/Deborah Nguyen

The allocation will also help humanitarian organizations to rapidly support critical logistics and emergency telecommunications and scale up water and emergency health services to reduce the risk of vector and waterborne diseases.

Mr. Lowcock noted that the CERF allocation is a kick-starter but insufficient to respond to the expected rise in the level of need and urged donors to generously contribute to the response to Cyclone Idai. Affected people in the three countries will also require food assistance in the short to medium-term as the flooding occurred in the middle of the cropping season.

CERF pools contributions from donors around the world into a single fund allowing humanitarian responders to deliver life-saving assistance whenever and wherever crises hit.