Cyclone Idai: an update from Beira, Mozambique
Gerald Magashi, Director of Operations for Plan International Mozambique, describes the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Idai, and how Plan International has been reaching children and their families in the worst-affected areas.
Beira has been hit very badly. We arrived on 20 March and when we were moving around the city, we could see that the roofs had been blown off about 90% of the houses with iron sheets.
This is something that has never happened in the history of Beira. According to the people I spoke with, this is the first time in history that such a cyclone has happened. So the situation here is very bad.
The cyclone was accompanied by heavy rain and the floods have cost the lives of hundreds of people. Communities have lost their livelihoods and food – almost everything has been wiped out.
The impact of the flood has been devastating. People don’t have shelter. They are being forced to stay in temporary shelters such as schools and in churches. Schools are closed, and students are not continuing their normal education.
There is no tap water. There is no electricity. There are displaced people, unaccompanied children. People have died and others are injured.
Making sure people are protected
The main priority for the government is now search and rescue. As an organisation, Plan International has participated in rescue operations with government teams in the heavily affected district of Buzi.
We are also providing Non-Food Items (NFIs) to affected people. We need to make sure they are protected and have somewhere safe to sleep, and we need to protect them from communicable diseases like diarrhoea and cholera.
We are supplying water purification tablets so people have water to drink without risk of disease.
Injured people are being treated, but there is an acute shortage of medicines and doctors to attend to the disaster.
The President of Mozambique has indicated that the death toll could reach as high as 1,000 due the nature of the disaster. Overall, children and women are the most vulnerable.
For example, whenever a rescue is happening, people who have power and muscle can try to jump in, so the rescue team has to be trained to identify any children and women.
The other big problem we have seen is a shortage of food, water, blankets and a lack of toilets.
There is a high demand for dignity kits for menstrual hygiene management. We have been told that women are sharing the same toilets as men, boys and girls.
Hundreds of people are sharing only two or three toilets in the temporary shelters. So you can see the challenges they are facing.
Thinking of survival
People are thinking of their survival, and their survival at the moment means food, shelter and other basic needs.
They are afraid of hunger, because they do not have enough food. That is one of the biggest problems.
It is critical that people donate. How are we going to restore the lives of these communities, women and children? How will we get girls and boys back to school, back to their normal life, back to their education?
That is something our supporters can help with in the recovery stage.