SADC begs for Cyclone Idai victims

12 April 2019 | Africa

SADC chair Hage Geingob yesterday declared the situation created by Cyclone Idai a regional disaster.

Geingob launched the SADC Regional Humanitarian Floods Appeal, which aims to raise US$323 million to help about 2.9 million people in need.

Idai left a trail of destruction across Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

According to SADC statistics, 5% of the Malawian population, 6% of the Mozambique population and 2% of the Zimbabwean population were affected.

The floods caused by the cyclone affected three million people. A total of 839 people were killed, 201 476 displaced, 2 347 injured, and over 300 people are still missing in the affected countries.

All three countries declared states of emergency in the wake of the cyclone. Last month SADC allocated US$500 000 to the affected member states to assist victims of the cyclone that hit the three countries on 14 and 15 March.

According to Geingob about three million people require immediate assistance, including food, shelter, clothing, water, sanitation and medical support.

Geingob said the support would also aid in early recovery actions in the affected districts and help survivors to rebuild their lives, livelihoods and economies.

“We must ensure that our people do not only survive the threat posed by the cyclone and the subsequent floods, but bounce back better and stronger,” he said.

Domingos Gove, the SADC secretariat's director of food, agriculture and natural resources, said the appeal calls for provision of basic services to 317 accommodation centres.

The camps are providing shelter to 201 476 people.

According to Gove the cyclone caused extensive damage to infrastructure. More than 3 344 classrooms were destroyed, affecting more than 150 854 schoolchildren.

Gove also said that there was very little access to health facilities.

The SADC Appeal fact sheet states that 778 822 hectares of cropland and crops have been destroyed, which will worsen the already drought-compromised food security situation in the affected areas.

It further states that access to healthcare has been disrupted as more than 54 health facilities were destroyed by the cyclone, while damaged road infrastructure and flooded areas impeded the provision of assistance to the affected communities.

Health and sanitation facilities were also destroyed.

“Epidemics are reportedly on the increase as 1 052 cases of cholera, 535 cases of diarrhoea, and 276 cases of malaria have been confirmed. Most of the affected people have been sheltered in 317 camps where gender-based-violence cases are also on the increase,” the document states.



Interim efforts

According to Gove the Malawian government has developed a US$42.3 million flood response plan. Contributions and pledges made so far total US$11 million, leaving a gap of US$31 million.

The government of Mozambique made a separate appeal for US$282 million on 18 March and has collected only US$60.4 million so far.

Gove added that the government of Zimbabwe made an appeal for USS$60 million on 16 March.

JEMIMA BEUKES