More than a million people have been affected by severe flooding in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe with the numbers rising rapidly as the full extent of the damage becomes clearer, Christian Aid has warned.
Cyclone Idai carrying heavy rains and winds of up to 170km/h (106mp/h) made landfall at the port of Beira, Mozambique’s fourth largest city, on Thursday night (14 March), leaving the 500,000 residents without power and communications lines down.
The cyclone follows a week of heavy rains and flooding across South East Africa that has already killed at least 145 people in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. The President of Mozambique has warned that the number could exceed 1,000.
Nicholas Shamano, Christian Aid Country Director, Zimbabwe, said: “The situation is already dire. Lives, livelihoods, infrastructure and property have been lost. The priority now must be on addressing the immediate needs of the affected communities. But we also need to focus on addressing the effects of natural disasters and improve disaster preparedness for communities at risk to ensure resilience to extreme weather systems”
The cyclone moved across Mozambique to Zimbabwe over the weekend. Nearly 1.6 million people are estimated to live in areas that could be impacted by high winds and rainfall.
While the full extent of the cyclone’s impact is not yet clear, it is likely to include damage to schools and health facilities; road networks, telecommunications, damage to water and sanitation infrastructure; impeding access to safe water for affected communities; bringing a heightened risk of water-borne diseases, destruction of people’s homes, and increased protection risks.
In Malawi, more than 992,000 people have been impacted in 14 affected districts – including more than 75,900 displaced, with 56 deaths and 577 injuries recorded according to the Government. The heavy rains and floods have likely impacted agricultural activities, as fields are inundated, and recently planted crops have been destroyed. It is likely that the potential loss of harvest, will impact livelihoods in the medium and long-term. In Nsanje, the heavy rains and floods occurred in areas where there is already a dire food insecurity situation.
In Zimbabwe, government sources in Chimanimani District in Manicaland, estimate that approximately 2,500 households (12,700 people) have been affected, with 89 deaths and at least 200 people are reported missing. There are reports of children affected by flooding, mudslides and rock-falls in Chimanimani. The Eastern parts of the country, particularly Chimanimani and Chipinge districts in Manicaland Province have been worst affected and Chimanimani has been reportedly cut off by flooding, fallen bridges and landslides. The cyclone is expected to continue on its path into the country, and the effects are also being felt in metropolitan Harare.
Christian Aid has released emergency reserves to help with the immediate relief response. We are working through our partners in Malawi and Zimbabwe to provide food, shelter, clothing, water, healthcare, sanitation, hygiene and psycho-social support services. Special needs for children, women, the disabled, elderly and vulnerable groups will be part of Christian Aid’s focus. Christian Aid is appealing for much-needed funds to help people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
Country programme and humanitarian staff in Malawi and Zimbabwe available for interview on request. If you would like further information, please contact Julia Fairrie on 07855 951394 or 24 hour press duty phone – 07850 242950