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Saving lives and preventing further tragedy after Cyclone Idai

At least 750 people were killed, and hundreds of thousands have been left homeless. A total of 3 million people were affected.

Written by Tearfund | 28 Mar 2019

Flooding in Beira, Mozambique

On 15 March Cyclone Idai made landfall in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. Thought to be the worst tropical cyclone on record in southern Africa, it left behind a trail of destruction. 

At least 750 people were killed, and hundreds of thousands have been left homeless. A total of 3 million people were affected.

Malawian farmer McClean lost his home and crops after flooding caused by the cyclone. His family of seven woke to a living nightmare: ‘It was night time when we saw water entering our house,’ he told a Tearfund partner. 

‘We woke up and tried climbing on top of the house, but it then collapsed. I was very scared as we did not know what to do. We climbed a mango tree waiting for the rescue team which came with canoes taking us to safety, leaving everything behind.’

‘'We climbed a mango tree waiting for the rescue team...'’
McClean, a farmer from Malawi

Chikwawa district in southern Malawi is one of the most prone districts to hazards such as floods and strong winds. Since the cyclone, close to 8,000 families have been forced from their homes, including McClean’s. 

Immediate response
The full scale of the disaster is still unfolding as search and rescue operations continue and more heavy rain is predicted. Tearfund and our church partners responded immediately and are continuing to help those whose lives were devastated. 

Together with the Disasters Emergency Committee, we have launched an appeal. We’re delivering emergency shelter kits, food such as pulses and maize flour, water purification tablets and providing urgent health assistance. As the cyclone has destroyed many crops, we are distributing seeds to help with the expected food shortages. 

The main focus of the relief effort is to save lives, but the effect of this disaster will be felt for a long time. With a lack of clean, accessible water there is now a high risk of cholera and malaria spreading.


Father God,

We lift up to you the people of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi as they face up to the destruction left by Cyclone Idai. Please bring healing and comfort to those who’ve lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods. Help those involved in the relief efforts to be able to bring provisions and support where it is needed most. And please help these nations in the long-term to restore what was lost and to flourish once again.

In Jesus’ name we pray.

If you feel led, please give to our Cyclone Idai Appeal, and please continue to join us in prayer for the people of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi.

Image credit: Karel Prinsloo/DEC

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Written by  Tearfund

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