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Cyclone Idai: One month on, flood waters in Mozambique have begun to recede, the needs have not

14 Apr 2019


Credit: OCHA/Saviano Abreu

On 14 March, Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique, bringing devastation to the port City of Beira and surrounding areas. The following days, the weather system swept through the central region, causing massive flooding and leaving entire communities submerged under 10 metres of water.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, there was an inspiring and instant outpouring of international support and solidarity. More than 14 countries, including 5 from Africa, deployed over 100 assets to support the aid effort, and relief supplies were flown in from around the world. Civil Protection mechanisms were activated, and Emergency Medical Teams were deployed.

Multiple donors triggered crisis mechanisms and the Emergency Relief Coordinator immediately allocated $14 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), enabling humanitarian actors to rapidly scale-up the operation. Aid organisations pre-financed nearly $60 million of the operation using internal funds that must now be repaid

The achievements so far are remarkable.

Food has been distributed from day one, so far reaching 1 million people

Credit: OCHA/Saviano Abreu

“I was home with my four children. We tried to get cover under the table when the roof started to collapse”. Ana Felipe, 30, is pregnant. She fled when one of the walls fell. “I was afraid. When the wall fell, it almost killed my three-year-old boy”. She spent the night in a neighbour house and moved to this school in the morning. “I lost everything. The house, the children’s school materials, everything. I am only eating what we receive here”.

More than 800,000 people have been vaccinated against cholera

Credit: OCHA/Saviano Abreu

Two-year-old Luísa was the first child to receive the cholera vaccine in Beira today, together with her brother Felipe, 3, and her mother Helena. “I was worried when everyone started talking about cholera”, Helena told us. “I feel better now knowing that my children are safe”. Over 907,000 people have so far received water support and over 155,000 have received hygiene support.

More than 117,000 people have received emergency shelter

Credit: OCHA/Saviano Abreu

“My house was made of mud with metal-sheets in the roof. When the roof was blown off, I had no option but to flee with my kids”. Monica and her three children found shelter in a football camp in the Samora Machel neighbourhood of Dondo, a few kilometres from Beira, where they are living in a tent.

Support has reached survivors of gender-based violence

Credit: UNFPA

Humanitarian partners have quickly established Gender-based Violence referral pathways - including the distrubution of 2,341 dignity kits - and protection monitoring systems, including tracking unaccompanied and separated children.

Safe spaces for children have been quickly set up so they could get some relief from the destruction they witnessed

Credit: OCHA/Saviano Abreu

Cyclone Idai changed the course of Maria (first from right), Leninha and Isabele’s lives. They are just 10, and they now live in a tent. Going to school is not an option right now. “We miss school - says Maria– but at least now we can play with the ball and that makes us happy.” Rosa and Manuel, from a local organization called Kugarissica, made their day. The couple of social educators spent the morning organizing activities for the children. “We sing, we run, we play. We also have some educative activities, but we mostly try to keep it light and fun”, explains Rosa. “These children need to get their minds away from what they have witnessed”.

Keeping communities informed

Duarte António Duarte has mounted a speaker on this motorbike and goes around the community amplifying messages from a mobile phone via Bluetooth. Credit: OCHA/Saviano Abreu

Communication with affected communities has been a priority for aid workers as they planned to reach as many people as possible with critical information on food distributions, vaccinations points and health advocacy. Humanitarian partners have supported two community radio projects. As local radio stations were destroyed by the cyclone and floods, they worked around the clock so the radios could resume operations. Harmonised messages on cholera and malaria prevention, the risk of sexual exploitation and abuse, gender-based violence and child protection have been disseminated through local radios in Portuguese, Sena and Ndau.

The months ahead

The response has been massive, tirelessly carried out despite enormous challenges – funding shortfalls and difficulties accessing remote areas due to flooding and damaged roads.

The funds allocated in the early days of the crisis have been utilised to reach nearly 1 million people with assistance, and resources are running out. The response to Cyclone Idai is just 23 per cent funded, with $76.9 million received out of $282 million requested. More funding is urgently needed to prevent the situation from unravelling and allow the response to scale up and reach those most in need.