People's Stories Wellbeing

Cyclone Idai, flooding wreaks havoc across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe
by CARE, IFRC, OCHA, agencies
12 Apr 2019
Cyclone Idai caused devastation across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe last month, killing at least 750 people and leaving around 3 million in desperate need of help. The UN is appealing for $300 million in funding support to meet the urgent and ongoing needs of the impacted populations.
One Month After Cyclone Idai, Food Shortages Outpace Funding. (CARE)
The effects of last month’s Cyclone Idai are threatening to create a catastrophic hunger crisis compounded by the existing food insecurity across southern Africa, CARE experts warn.
One month since the destructive storm swept across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, the humanitarian situation remains critical. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their livelihoods and require humanitarian assistance to survive.
“Hundreds of acres of crops have been lost and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes; basic services have not yet been fully re-established,” said Matthew Pickard, CARE’s regional manager for central and southern Africa. “Simply put, the recovery from this disaster hasn’t begun yet and that is going to have a massive adverse impact on the ability of families to recover from this catastrophe.”
“We urgently need to implement robust food assistance and early recovery activities particularly looking at supporting affected families to replant the crops they lost in the cyclone and floods,” Pickard continued.
“If we can get seed to families quickly they can take advantage of the residual moisture in the ground and they should be able to grow enough food to support their families throughout the year. If we miss this window of opportunity, the consequences for these families would be catastrophic. We are therefore calling on the international community and other donors to dig deep and urgently find additional funds to support the life-saving response.”
Described by the UN as "one of the deadliest storms on record in the southern hemisphere," Idai made landfall the night of March 14 near the Mozambican port city of Beira, bringing heavy winds and rains. The storm then moved inland to neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi causing devastating destruction of farmlands and livelihoods.
The situation in is particularly alarming in Mozambique where hundreds of thousands of people live in temporary shelters as their homes have been destroyed. The floodwaters that left a large part of central Mozambique a vast inland sea are draining away, revealing swaths of agricultural land desolate. Rice and maize fields were destroyed and unless families are able to replant quickly they will face a severe food shortage in the month ahead.
“Even before the cyclone, more than 40 percent of children in Mozambique were physically stunted, according to the UN,” said Marc Nosbach, CARE’s Mozambique country director. “Now this may worsen due to food shortages.”
Nosbach said the biggest challenges are around resources, capacity and funding. Thousands of people remain in hard to reach areas of Mozambique, surrounded by floodwater, he explained. “The heavy lifting that is needed to get the people and resources to reach those in need is costly and requires fast and flexible funding to do so,” he said.
“Despite the comprehensive destruction and enormity of needs, the response so far is only 18% funded. While donors have been generous in terms of the initial military assets to aid the search and rescue phase, more money is needed now to be channeled to organizations on the ground to scale up the response to provide basic life-saving support.”
12 Apr 2019
One month on from Cyclone Idai, 1.6 million children still reeling from its impact - UNICEF
At least 1.6 million children need urgent assistance - in healthcare, nutrition, protection, education, water and sanitation - one month after Cyclone Idai devastated parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, UNICEF said today. Any prolonged interruption in access to essential services could lead to disease outbreaks and spikes in malnutrition, to which children are especially vulnerable.
The needs in Mozambique remain massive, with 1 million children in need of assistance, followed by more than 443,000 in Malawi and 130,000 in Zimbabwe.
Mozambique has already seen cases of cholera and malaria surge to 4,600 and 7,500 respectively since the cyclone hit.
UNICEF is particularly worried about access to services for the more 130,000 children who remain displaced following the cyclone, most of whom are in Mozambique and Malawi. More than 200,000 homes were destroyed by the storm in Mozambique alone.
"Children living in crowded shelters or away from their homes are highly vulnerable and they at immediate risk from diseases, malnutrition. They need clean water and sanitation facilities," said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, who visited Beira immediately after the cyclone hit. "The road to recovery will be long. It is imperative that humanitarian partners are there every step of the way. We need to help children and families survive and then get back on their feet."
Across the three countries, flood waters have largely receded, and some affected families have started to return home. Yet thousands remain in evacuation camps because their houses were damaged or destroyed. Food security is also a major issue because the storm destroyed crops weeks before the harvest.
UNICEF and its partners are continuing to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs of children and families, but need greater funding to meet to the overwhelming needs.
11 Apr. 2019
UK International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt attending a World Bank meeting on the response to Cyclone Idai called on donors to increase their funding to help meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands of people impacted by the disaster. She will also stressed the need to help African countries become more resilient to climate change.
Ms. Mordaunt said: ''We have all seen images of the terrible suffering and devastation caused by Cyclone Idai. The UK is providing assistance to assist the victims of this destruction, but we need other partners help to do more. But we must plan for the future too. Over the next century increasing temperatures are likely to make severe weather events across Africa more frequent. We need to help African communities adapt to climate shocks, providing technical expertise and finance.
Climate change is a global issue which requires global action. We must act now, so worldwide we are better prepared to deal with future extreme weather events. If we don’t the consequences may well be devastating.
African nations are responsible for just 2 to 3% of global emissions, but Africa is set to be the continent worst impacted by climate change, hit by changing season patterns that damage crops and natural disasters that threaten communities''.
She called on her international counterparts to support African and developing countries respond to the challenges of climate change.
27 Mar. 2019
UN children’s agency launches US$122 million humanitarian appeal amidst worst disaster to hit southern Africa in decades
An estimated 3 million people, more than half of whom are children, urgently need humanitarian assistance across Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai – the worst disaster to hit southern Africa in at least two decades.
Today UNICEF has launched its appeal to support its humanitarian response for children and families devastated by the storm and its aftermath in the three affected countries over the next nine months.
“The massive scale of the devastation wrought by Cyclone Idai is becoming clearer by the day,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore who visited storm-ravaged Beira, in Mozambique, last week. “The lives of millions of children and families are on the line, and we urgently need to mount a rapid and effective humanitarian response across all three countries.”
The situation on the ground is expected to get worse before it gets better. There is little time to prevent the spread of opportunistic diseases. Current conditions – stagnant waters, lack of hygiene, overcrowding in temporary shelters – can easily lead to outbreaks of diarrhoea, malaria and cholera to which children are especially vulnerable.
In Mozambique, the most affected country, 1.85 million people, including 1 million children. are in dire need of assistance. In Beira, there is critical infrastructure damage. Floodwaters have damaged crops just before the harvest season with up to 50 per cent of Mozambique’s annual crop production destroyed.
In Malawi, more than 869,000 people, including 443,000 children, have been affected, with over 85,000 people displaced.
In Zimbabwe, more than 270,000 people have been affected, half of whom are children.
UNICEF is ramping up its response for affected children and families in each of the three countries, working to expand access to healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene, and education services. The children’s agency and its partners are also focusing on preventing a spike in malnutrition, identifying children who may have been orphaned or separated from their families, and getting children back to school.
21 Mar. 2019
Dire conditions persist in vast areas of southern Africa affected by Cyclone Idai as heavy rain continued to cause “massive destruction”, the UN said on Thursday, while aid teams scaled up efforts to reach those most in need.
Warning that the situation is likely to deteriorate, the World Food Programme (WFP) said that people are still stranded on rooftops after the storm began its sweep through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe six days ago.
In Mozambique alone, the agency is seeking more than $121 million to help 1.7 million people affected through the next three months, WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel said, after the Government declared a state of national emergency.
Sofala and Manica provinces were worst-hit, and extensive damage has been caused to major roads and bridges which are now impassable.
Power networks have also been severed and are unlikely to be restored for several weeks, while many tens of thousands have lost their homes.
According to Mozambique’s National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), more than 100,000 people were still “isolated” and without assistance in Chimoio, Dombe and other locations in Manica province.
To date, WFP has provided food assistance to more than 20,000 people in Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia; it aims to reach 600,000 people in the next four weeks.
But with aerial assessments over Mozambique’s Buzi valley showing “entire villages wiped out”, Mr. Verhoosel stressed that needs are likely to far outstrip initial estimates.
“It is clear that the number of 600,000 will definitely go up in the coming days,” Mr. Verhoosel said. “That has of course an implication on cost. If we help 600,000 people for three months, that is a cost of $42 million. If we need to help up to 1.7 million people for three months, that will be a cost of $121.5 million. Obviously, we don’t have that money today.”
In Zimbabwe, 200,000 people urgently need food assistance in the coming three months, according to WFP.
Conditions in the hardest-hit district, Chimanimani, are severe, Mr Verhoosel explained, with 90 per cent of property significantly damaged.
In Malawi, where Cyclone Idai had a limited impact, 920,000 have been affected by flooding that began on 5 March, according to the Government.
People are beginning to return home and WFP has started food distributions to the worst-hit districts of Nsanje, Phalombe, Chikwawa and Zomba. In the next two months, the agency plans to reach 650,000 people.
Mr. Verhoosel also highlighted ongoing challenges in Beira, where 90 per cent of the port city was damaged by Idai.
“In the port for the moment, you have no infrastructure,” he said, adding that the situation was the same at the airport, where people had to unload food by hand, “box by box”.
“In Beira, the level of water is not the same as in the countryside… inland, the problem is that you have basically water all around,” Mr Verhoosel said.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), is providing humanitarian assistance to Mozambique in the aftermath of Idai, to protect the health and well-being of women.
21 Mar. 2019
Briefing: The response to Cyclone Idai. (New Humanitarian/IRIN News)
Nearly a week since Cyclone Idai struck three of the most vulnerable countries in Southern Africa, needs are rising. Aid access has been a major challenge and cholera is a serious concern.
More than 3 million people in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe have been affected by what the UN called a “massive disaster”.
Mozambique was the first country hit. Some reports estimate 90 percent of Beira, the fourth largest city, with more than 500,000 residents, may be damaged or destroyed. But Médecins Sans Frontières said “it’s still too early” to have a complete overview of the situation as many areas remain cut off and inaccessible by road. The storm also destroyed most of Beira’s telecoms infrastructure, making it difficult to get word out of the affected areas.
“I am able to say that all health centres and hospitals have been affected,” said Caroline Rose, MSF’s head of mission in Mozambique, expressing concern about the growing health needs, especially the risk of waterborne diseases, including cholera. “Several health centres are in very, very bad condition.”
In neighbouring Zimbabwe, “the situation we are seeing now isn’t fully clear,” agreed Mildred Makore, Mercy Corps director of programmes in the country. “Chimanimani, which is the worst-hit district, and we may be overwhelmed when we have true access.”
Here’s a round-up of what we know about the humanitarian needs and response.
What is the scale of the disaster?
Late on 14 March, Cyclone Idai made landfall off the coast of Mozambique, before continuing to Zimbabwe and Malawi, causing widespread devastation across parts of the three countries.
The scale of damage in Mozambique is “massive and horrifying”, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said. Tens of thousands lost their homes; roads, bridges, and crops were washed away; and people remain trapped on roofs awaiting rescue as parts of Beira are still under water.
More than 100,000 people needed emergency evacuation in Beira and surrounding areas in Buzi District. Mozambique’s president estimated more than 1,000 people may have been killed. So far, 1,500 are injured and many thousands displaced.
In Zimbabwe, more than 100 people have been reported dead, 200 are injured, and another 200 are still missing.
Malawi has reported 57 dead and more than 500 injured. More than 94,000 people are estimated to have been displaced and some 840,000 people have been affected, according to the government.
Heavy rain and flooding before the cyclone hit had claimed more than 120 lives and affected 1.5 million people in the region, the UN said. Malawi and Mozambique are both prone to extreme weather events, such as the floods that left hundreds dead in both countries in 2015. While parts of Zimbabwe are under water, other parts are in the midst of El Niño-induced drought, which has caused a severe food crisis.
How were people impacted?
The World Food Programme estimates that 1.7 million people in Mozambique alone were along the path of the cyclone when it hit.
MSF described the scene as “destruction – and a lot of water”, saying that electricity, telecommunication lines, and main roads leading into Beira remain cut off, with houses and buildings submerged, and hospitals severely damaged.
Those who made it out of affected areas are living informally in schools, churches, or sometimes just out in the open, where they face the risk of respiratory infections and other diseases. With people exposed to the elements “all the small problems will become big problems”, MSF’s Rose said.
In Nsanje, one of Malawi’s worst-hit districts, “houses fell down completely or partially, and a lot of toilets and kitchens went down,” said Ilse Casteels, MSF’s head of mission in the country. “Because of the floods people moved to higher areas, regrouping in churches and centres and schools. For the moment there are a lot of families staying there,” she said, even though some people have returned home to start rebuilding as the flood waters recede.
In Malawi and Zimbabwe, people lost their homes but also their livelihoods when the floods destroyed their crops. Many of those affected in Zimbabwe’s eastern highlands are small-scale farmers, Mercy Corps’ Makore said. As a result worsening food security will be a major concern in the months ahead.
An estimated “200,000 are in need of urgent food assistance for the next three months in Zimbabwe,” the WFP said, with Chimanimani the hardest hit.
Who is responding?
UN agencies, local and international aid organisations, and foreign countries have intervened or sent funds to assist the humanitarian response.
The WFP aims to provide food assistance to some 600,000 people in Mozambique and 650,000 people in Malawi. MSF is providing emergency medical care in affected regions and in Mozambique and Malawi.
In Zimbabwe’s Chimanimani district, where severe flooding wiped out roads and bridges and left the area accessible only by helicopter, the International Rescue Committee has set up a mobile clinic and is distributing food and specialised kits for women. Mercy Corps has been focusing on water, hygiene, and sanitation services.
CARE is working with the government of Mozambique to provide seeds and livestock to replenish farms that have been decimated by flooding.
The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, known as CERF, has allocated $20 million to ramp up the humanitarian response across the three countries. The UK is donating almost $24 million, the EU close to $4 million, and the African Union $350,000. Tanzania said it was sending urgent relief supplies, including tonnes of medicine and food.
What are the humanitarian needs/gaps?
Access to potable drinking water, shelter, food, and healthcare are the priorities, aid groups say, with water, sanitation, and hygiene needs particularly urgent as the risk of waterborne diseases is the major concern across the board.
“In Beira, we fear a huge cholera outbreak soon,” said MSF’s Rose. “The main challenges will be getting treatment for people who don’t understand they have cholera, and that it’s urgent, or people who are not reachable, or people who cannot reach health centres.”
To mitigate the challenges, MSF will attempt a “decentralised system with small cholera centres in many zones,” Rose said. “We cannot ask people to go to big centres. We will have to be in the communities where they are.”
Zimbabwe has been in the midst of a cholera outbreak since last year. Mercy Corps, which has been assisting with the response, is concerned that recent events will worsen the crisis.
“Our major concern is that the water bodies have been contaminated, because the latrines have been destroyed,” Makore said. “We are concerned because there can be an ensuing disaster following that, related to the waterborne diseases,” including cholera and typhoid, as well as malaria.
“We have to make sure the affected population has access to clean water,” she said, adding that a lot more support is required to help those affected - from immediate lifesaving aid to longer-term support for communities who will need to rebuild.
In Malawi, MSF’s Casteels said the most urgent need is clean, potable water, after many boreholes were affected by the flooding. She also expressed concern about cholera and malaria spreading in the coming weeks.
“The biggest concern that you hear is about food. Access to food now, but also in the future. People are really afraid crops are affected. And because the country is so dependent on agriculture, that’s a big concern.”
What are the longer-term issues?
Mercy Corps’ Makore said the priority should be resilience-building for affected communities.
“Contextually, for Zimbabwe right now, we have got two natural disasters at the same time. The El Niño-induced drought and now this flooding... Whatever produce was available was washed away, and livestock was also washed away,” she said.
“Right now, we need to speak about food security, which was already an issue, but now we need to think beyond that because of the potential for disease outbreaks, shelter concerns, displacement. So I think we have a huge task ahead of us as organisations.”
In Malawi, Casteels raised similar concerns. “The biggest concern that you hear is about food,” she said. “Access to food now, but also in the future. People are really afraid crops are affected. And because the country is so dependent on agriculture, that’s a big concern.”
Based on the aftermath of previous disasters that have affected Mozambique, MSF’s Rose said: “it will take years to rebuild the town of Beira”.
“This will have the worst impact on those most vulnerable,” she said. “It’s those who have small, fragile houses that are worst impacted, as they are always the people without the means to build a new house. So it’s a vicious cycle. Those who have no means to rebuild will be left outside with no house, more at risk of disease and worse off."
"The situation is already complicated and it will continue to be, especially for the most vulnerable,” she said.
In Zimbabwe, already confronted by a host of humanitarian, economic, and political challenges, Cyclone Idai has only made the outlook more bleak. “The priority is to help get people back on track and restore some level of dignity and hope,” said Makore.

Visit the related web page

Safe drinking water, sanitation, are basic human rights
by UN Water Development report
Mar. 2019
Water use has been increasing worldwide by about 1% per year since the 1980s, driven by a combination of population growth, socio-economic development and changing consumption patterns. Global water demand is expected to continue increasing at a similar rate until 2050, accounting for an increase of 20 to 30% above the current level of water use, mainly due to rising demand in the industrial and domestic sectors.
Over 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress, and about 4 billion people experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year. Stress levels will continue to increase as demand for water grows and the effects of climate change intensify.
The United Nations World Water Development Report, Leaving no one behind, launched 19 March 2019 during the 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), and in conjunction to the World Water Day, demonstrates how improvements in water resources management and access to water supply and sanitation services are essential to addressing various social and economic inequities, such that ‘no one is left behind’ when it comes to enjoying the multiple benefits and opportunities that water provides.
Safe drinking water and sanitation are recognized as basic human rights, as they are indispensable to sustaining healthy livelihoods and fundamental in maintaining the dignity of all human beings.
International human rights law obliges states to work towards achieving universal access to water and sanitation for all, without discrimination, while prioritizing those most in need.
Fulfilment of the human rights to water and sanitation requires that the services be available, physically accessible, equitably affordable, safe and culturally acceptable.
‘Leaving no one behind’ is at the heart of the commitment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to allow all people in all countries to benefit from socio-economic development and to achieve the full realization of human rights.
The report underscores that exclusion, discrimination, poverty and inequalities are among the main obstacles to achieving the water-related goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
While the wealthy generally receive high levels of service at low prices, the poor often pay a much higher price for services of similar, or lesser quality.
“It is crazy that often in slum areas, people have to pay more for a volume of water than people living it better off neighbourhoods”, Stefan Uhlenbrook, UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme coordinator.
Rapid urbanization means slums will continue to develop, excluding those who live there from the benefits of having an address, or water and sanitation networks, leaving them reliant on costly alternatives.
He pointed out that slum-dwellers pay up to 10-20 per cent more for not having piped in access to water and sanitation so “depend on water vendors, kiosks and other things”.
Equal access to water for agricultural production, even if only for supplemental watering of crops, can make the difference between farming as a mere means of survival and farming as a reliable source of income, according to the report.
“Three-quarters of people living in extreme poverty live in rural areas” flagged Mr. Uhlenbrook, adding that the vast majority are smallholder family farmers, who, while constituting the backbone of national food chains, often suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition.
The report also highlights the barriers that refugees and internally-displaced people often face in accessing water supply and sanitation services.
By the end of the 2017, conflict, persecution, or human rights violations forcibly displaced an unprecedented 68.5 million from their homes. And sudden-onset disasters displaced another 18.8 million.
Mass displacement places strain upon natural resources and water-related services at transition and destination points for both existing populations and new arrivals, creating potential inequalities and a source of conflicts among them.
The report offers recommendations on how to overcome exclusion and inequality in the access water and sanitation. While prioritizing those most in need, the report maintains that international human rights law obliges States to impartially work for all to have access to water resources while shining a spotlight on accountability, transparency and justice as good governance features.
* Access the report via the link below.
Dec. 2018
Maude Barlow, Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and Founder of the Blue Planet Project: Nobel Dialogue Stockholm, Sweden - December 2018
The United Nations calls water scarcity the scourge of the Earth. Every day, 2 billion people are forced to drink contaminated water and every two minutes a child under five dies of waterborne disease. If we do not change our ways, by 2030, five billion people could suffer serious water shortages.
In 2010, the people of the world took an evolutionary step forward when the United Nations recognized water and sanitation as fundamental human rights. That day, we collectively declared that it is not acceptable for someone to die or watch their child die because they cannot afford to buy clean water. Most importantly, we recognized that access to water and sanitation is an issue of justice, not charity.
Now, nearly four dozen countries have amended their Constitution or written new laws to recognize the right to water. And a number of the most marginalized communities on Earth have used the courts and the UN resolution to force their governments to recognize this fundamental, life-giving right.
As we move forward to address the twin water crises – one ecological and one human – we must do so based on a set of shared values.
While the ecological crisis impacts all of us, it impacts the poor differently. And not just in the Global South – water cut-offs to the poor are now common in some wealthy countries.
To truly guarantee the right to water, we must protect it as a public trust and a commons, not a commodity to be put on the open market for sale like oil and gas. And we must challenge the current power structures and institutions that support unequal access to the planet’s dwindling water supplies.
Our goal must be clean, affordable, accessible, public water for all everywhere. But it will be impossible to realize the right to water if we continue to pollute, plunder, divert, over-extract and mismanage the planet’s limited water sources.
Make no mistake; while climate change negatively impacts water, our abuse of water and the destruction of local hydrologic cycles is a major contributor to climate chaos.
The good news is the protection and restoration of watersheds is a major part of the climate solution. Therefore, we must stop seeing water as a resource for our pleasure and profit and understand it is the key element in living ecosystems that give us all life.
Water has rights outside of its usefulness to humans. Water belongs to the Earth and other living beings and requires new Earth-centred laws of governance.
Finally, we will never realize the human right to water as long as water is a source of conflict, violence and even war. Rather – and here is the miracle – water has been and can be again a source of peace if we can understand its lesson.
Just as groundwater and springs and rivers and lakes are all interconnected and interdependent, so too, are humans. If we truly listen, water could become nature’s gift to teach us to live more lightly on mother Earth and in peace and harmony with one another.
* Global Water Institute - Future Water Insecurity (2013:16pp):

Visit the related web page

View more stories

Submit a Story Search by keyword and country Guestbook