Tropical Cyclone Idai has caused widespread destruction and loss of life across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Plan International is coordinating closely with the national governments, partners and other humanitarian organisations in all three countries to ensure we identify and address the needs of families affected by this tragedy.
As a child rights organisation with a strong focus on gender equality, our primary concern is the safety, security and needs of children, especially girls and young women – including expectant and breastfeeding mothers – and our team will work to ensure that the distinct needs of these survivors are taken into account and met.
In Mozambique, the death toll from Cyclone Idai’s landfall has reportedly risen to 84 in Mozambique with fears that it could rise to more than 1000.
Plan International’s emergency response team is on the ground in Sofala and Inhambane provinces to carry out a rapid needs assessment as part of the coordinated response to the Tropical Cyclone Idai.
Heavy rainfall is projected to continue in Sofala and Manica provinces,that have already been hit hard by the cyclone. There is a risk of further flooding in the next 72 hours, which could lead to further destruction and potential loss of lives.
Plan International's team is assessing urgent requirements including shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, child protection and education. Plan International is also distributing non-food items including blankets, mosquito nets and water containers.
“Emergencies often cause already fragile water and sanitation systems to break down or become damaged. This puts people, especially the most vulnerable, such as the young, elderly or those with disabilities at risk,” says Anne C Hoff, Country Director for Plan International Mozambique. “Emergencies put girls and young women in particular in a very vulnerable situation. Also, lack of access to clean water increases the likelihood of an outbreak of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera.”
There has been significant damage to houses in Beira City – which has an estimated population of more than half a million people. Many areas outside the city remain hard to reach as most of the roads have been washed away.
“We are ascertaining the needs of adolescent girls in our response. Our priority is to ensure their needs are met as much as possible, including providing protection and the distribution of dignity kits,” says Stuart Katwikirize, Plan International Regional Head of Disaster Risk Management.
In Zimbabwe, a total of 82 people have been confirmed dead since 15 March 2019. 200 more have been injured and 217 are still missing. Almost 1,000 homes have been destroyed in Chimanimani, Chipinge, Mutasa, Mutare, Buhera, Chikomba, Gutu and Bikita districts
More than 3,100 households (12,500 to 15,000 people) are estimated to be affected. Based on census data, 48% of those affected are estimated to be children and 52% are estimated to be women. Accurate assessment still difficult due to inaccessibility of some parts of the affected areas
“Our immediate concern is for the women and children who are now cut off from assistance due to the damage affecting most roads making it impossible to travel. The heavy rains continue to pound the affected areas putting them at higher risk,” says Angela Muriithi, Country Director of Plan International Zimbabwe.
In Malawi, the government declared a State of Disaster on 8 March. At least 15 districts have been affected. 45 deaths and 577 injuries had been recorded so far with 147,958 households (approximately 739,790 people) affected and 15,185 households displaced. Most of the displaced families are living in camps managed by district authorities.
Many houses have collapsed, and affected people are seeking shelter in schools (preventing students from accessing education), churches and other camps. Due to overcrowding, there is lack of privacy for young women and girls, who are living in these shelters, which is affecting their health and general wellbeing. Agriculture fields and small livestock have been washed away. There is a critical need for food, fresh water, shelter, and sanitary facilities.
“We will start responding in Mulanje district by providing lifesaving needs in the priority sectors of food, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene and shelter,” says Daniel Muchena, Country Director of Plan International Malawi. “Additionally, we will work in collaboration with other agencies in Machinga and Zomba to ensure that all children and especially girls are safe.”