Tropical Cyclone Idai has caused widespread destruction and loss of life across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, affecting hundreds of thousands of people.
Over 350 people have died in the three countries with Mozambique suffering the highest human fatalities. As the death toll continues to rise, over 260,000 children have been affected in the country and at least 350,000 people are at risk from rising flood waters. In Malawi, close to a million people have been affected with nearly half a million being children.
Plan International’s biggest concern is to ensure that anyone who is displaced, particularly girls and young women, is safe and has access to food, shelter, clothing and blankets to keep them warm in windy conditions during the nights.
We are also concerned about the potential spread of malaria and waterborne diseases due to the flooding, which would put people, especially the most vulnerable like young children, at risk.
How is Plan International responding?
Plan International has been conducting rapid needs assessments in all three countries to address urgent requirements.
We are currently distributing blankets, dignity kits and utensils to affected families, as well as mosquito nets and water purification tablets – which can mean the difference between life and death for many people.
We are also mobilising child protection teams to help prevent gender-based violence by raising awareness among communities of the risks to girls and young women and delivering training to ensure that any incidents are quickly reported to the authorities.
Additional safety risks for girls
Displaced girls living in shelters face many additional risks, including gender-based violence.
For a girl like me living in such a house with lots of people and no privacy, it is very difficult.
Many people are sheltering in overcrowded schools, churches and public buildings with communal bathroom facilities, increasing girls' and young women's vulnerability to potential attacks.
In the Mulanje district of Malawi, where Plan International works, hundreds of sponsored children have had their lives turned upside-down. 17-year-old Alindine lives with her brother and mother Catherine. Their house collapsed when flood water swept into their village.
“In the house we are staying in, there are a number of families and it’s not big enough for all of us. So, for a girl like me living in such a house with lots of people and no privacy, it is very difficult.” explains Alindine (main image, above right).
Responding to the needs of children and families affected
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.
Survivors of the Cyclone Idai disaster need your support. Please donate to the Southern Africa appeal: