The passage of tropical cyclone Idai, which devastated entire regions of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, has caused the death of more than 750 people and affected around 3 million people.
We are in the three countries and in some of the regions most heavily hit by the cyclone where we have implemented long-term programs to support local communities: in the province of Zambezia (Mozambique), where 2,000 houses were destroyed in Mocuba and the flooding river has divided the small village in two; in Zimbabwe in the province of Manicaland, badly hit; in Malawi in the Nsanje district, where already present flooding was exacerbated by the cyclone.
"Our country is at the mercy of the devastation inflicted by Cyclone Idai – declared Marcia Cossa, Director of ActionAid programs Mozambique – in Beira the situation is critical and a state of emergency has been declared. People do not have food, water or medicine, and the number of victims is increasing. Desperate survivors are waiting to be rescued from the roofs of buildings. Rescuers work 24 hours a day but fear they do not have the resources to save everyone. The most affected areas are completely isolated from the rest of the country, without communication or electricity. With the rain continuing to fall the situation on the ground is terrible. The district of Busi is almost entirely underwater."
With additional heavy rain expected in the coming days, for the United Nations, this could become one of the worst recorded meteorological disasters in the Southern Hemisphere.
"I fear the cyclone may come back. I lost my three-year-old daughter. My husband is still looking for our son in the rubble. We no longer have a home..." says Talent Mvurachena, a 26-year-old woman.
"I've never seen such devastation. The needs are numerous because roads and bridges have been swept away; and therefore, carrying out rescue operations is a real challenge," says Toendepi Kamusewu, Head of ActionAid for the emergency in Zimbabwe. "I have seen desperate scenes, such as a group of people trying to save a 16-year-old boy buried in the rubble. People have lost everything, starting with the cattle of small family farms. There is a need for food, water, medicine, or the mortality rate will soar."
"I talked to a woman who lost her baby when the rain started to pour. Three other members of her family are missing, and she is left alone. She ran a stall at the Kopa market. Now it's all over; she has lost everything. She was found somewhere downstream, hanging from a tree, miraculously survived," this is the story of our colleague Takaitei Bote, Head of Communications for ActionAid Zimbabwe.
In Malawi the situation is no better. The country had already faced heavy rain and floods before the arrival of the cyclone, which struck areas already in difficulty. It is estimated that there are over 900 thousand people affected by the emergency in 14 different districts and more than 125 thousand displaced people in the country.
We are working in the field to assist the affected communities by creating temporary shelters and providing first aid items, such as food, blankets, hygiene kits, sterilising tablets, water and clothes. In collaboration with various local partners we are maximising our efforts to reach the biggest number of people possible, and it is your support that makes this possible!