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Mozambique: US$281.7M urgently needed to ramp up relief operations in response to Cyclone Idai

26 Mar 2019


@OCHA/Saviano Abreu

Humanitarian partners have issued a revised Humanitarian Response Plan requesting US$281.7 million to ramp up the response the devastating impact of Cyclone Idai, bring the total funding required for Mozambique to US$336.9 million.

The funding will enable response to the most immediate and life-saving needs arising from Cyclone Idai over a three-month period, along with sustained response to the pre-existing needs in drought-affected areas – for this, humanitarian partners were requesting US$55.2 million. It will also allow partners to immediately kick-start crucial recovery actions to begin restoring livelihoods and self-reliance, which will continue beyond the three-month horizon. Over the coming three months, the humanitarian community will review the situation, with the Government, to determine next steps, while simultaneously engaging with development partners to urge rapid action to tackle the longer-term issues resulting from the storm, including reconstruction and recovery.

Overall, it is estimated that 1.85 million people are in need of urgent and timely assistance.

Impact to date

On 14 March 2019, Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall near Beira City, leaving devastating loss of life and large-scale destruction of assets and infrastructure in its wake. In the following days, entire villages were submerged underwater as floodwaters rose. Thousands of people were stranded on roofs and trees. Entire swathes of crops were damaged – with nearly 500,000 hectares flooded – and severe loss of livestock is expected, exacerbating food insecurity across the central region of the country.

Many families were separated as they fled the rising flood waters, while others were trapped on high ground, unable to access basic goods and services for days. Tens of thousands of people were displaced, many having to flee with nothing as the waters rose rapidly. Children, the elderly and people with disabilities who are less mobile are likely to have been left behind or stranded, while women are expected to have borne the brunt of the storm, as they strove to save their households and livelihoods.

As of 25 March, the official death toll was 447, with more than 1,500 people injured, according to the Government. Authorities and aid agencies have highlighted the need for increased support in the management of dead bodies across the affected districts, as mortuary services are reportedly constrained.

Nearly 129,000 people were accommodated in 143 sites across Sofala, Manica , Zambezia and Tete, as of 25 March, where humanitarian needs are acute and both the risk of communicable disease outbreaks and protection risks – particularly for women and girls – are high.

Damage to infrastructure and livelihoods


Reports indicate significant damage to infrastructure and livelihoods, with an estimated 3,000km of land submerged. Some 72,260 houses are reportedly destroyed or flooded (2,184), with more than 497,700 hectares of crops damaged, which is expected to significantly increase food insecurity given that the flooding has coincided with the annual harvest season. More than 3,100 schools have been damaged, along with at least 45 health centres.

Cyclone worsens an already precarious humanitarian landscape


Cyclone Idai’s wreckage came on top of an already serious food insecurity situation in Mozambique. From September to December 2018, an estimated 1.78 million people were severely food insecure in the country. Of these, an estimated 814,700 severely food insecure people.

Additionally, the situation is compounded by high levels of poverty, as well as the Government’s limited fiscal space to respond effectively. Despite a downward trend in the incidence of poverty over the years, the number of poor people remains high and inequality is growing. Cyclone Idai is expected to exacerbate this situation.

People need clean water

@OCHA/Saviano Abreu

Access to safe water has been compromised by Cyclone Idai, particularly for displaced people living in collective centres, as well as people trapped by flood waters. Even prior to the crisis, only half of Mozambicans had access to improved water supply and only one in five use improved sanitation facilities. Most households impacted by flooding have lost access to safe sanitation, with latrines overflowing and homes destroyed.

People sheltering in collective centres – usually schools and churches – are living in overcrowded and congested conditions with limited access to safe water. There is an urgent need to separate sleeping arrangements in these sites, as different families are sleeping together, increasing the risk of gender-based violence, including sexual abuse of minor children.

Massive damage to health facilities

At least 45 health centres have been damaged by the storm and subsequent flooding. The emergency room of the Beira Central Hospital was extensively damaged during Cyclone Idai’s landfall, rendering it non-functional. At the same time, community health centres lost access to supply chains for drugs or were unable to open due to flooding.

An estimated 67,000 women impacted by the cyclone are reportedly pregnant, of whom 60 per cent are expected to give birth within the next three months. Most of these women were attending pre-natal clinics in neighbouring health centres, which have been destroyed or damaged. HIV prevalence in Mozambique is among the highest globally, and this disaster is expected to increase the risk of transmission as well as to jeopardise access to care for people living with HIV. More than 77,000 women of reproductive age are reportedly HIV positive and in need of urgent access to routine medication and other related nursing care in crisis-affected areas.

Children can’t go to school

@OCHA/Saviano Abreu

Both drought and floods have negatively impacted children’s well-being and their access to education. Cyclone Idai has damaged at least 3,140 classrooms, affecting more than 90,700 students, according to government figures on 24 March. In addition, many children have been displaced away from their homes and schools, and many schools are being used as collective centres for the displaced, rendering them non-functional for educational purposes. In drought-affected areas, poor concentration in class due to hunger and thirst was reported and shortage of water led to migration of the most vulnerable rural families, causing their children to drop out of school.