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Cyclone Idai 6 months on: Tearfund calls for international action as 2 million face food shortage in Mozambique

13 Sep 2019

Six months after Africa and the Southern hemisphere’s fiercest storm, Cyclone Idai, which wreaked havoc across Mozambique, Malawi and parts of Zimbabwe, over 2 million people are still facing food shortages and 77,000 are living in temporary displacement camps.

The UN says it has only received 45% of the $440 million needed to respond to Mozambique’s needs alone. Christian relief and development agency Tearfund is calling for the international community to act: to donate critically-needed funding to the response, and act now to prevent climate change costing even more lives in years to come through erratic and devastating storms.

Making landfall on 15 March, Cyclone Idai ripped across the Mozambican coast, through Malawi and parts of Zimbabwe, destroying houses, decimating a vital harvest and causing widespread flooding.

Over 3 million people were affected by the cyclone, losing their homes, access to food and medical care and living with the threat of water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

Following an international humanitarian effort, thousands of people have returned to their homes and are beginning to rebuild their lives but the fall-out of the powerful storm remains.

Tearfund has been responding to the most urgent needs, distributing food, oil, providing access to clean water, and providing seeds and tools to enable people to grow short cycle crops while they wait for the next harvest. In the next few months the aid agency will prepare people to cope with the changing climate they are living in - planting resilient crops, training communities to cope with unprecedented heavy rainfall, droughts and cyclones, and helping build small scale businesses which can survive the uncertainty of extreme weather patterns.

Tearfund is calling for international donors and governments to increase the funding for the response and also to help vulnerable communities become more resilient to the current climate emergency, with more frequent and extreme storms, droughts and flooding on the horizon. In addition, it wants to see governments delivering on climate promises at the UN Climate Summit on 23 September.

Rosa Jossias, age 27, is a mother of three living in Chibabava district who received food from Tearfund at a local food distribution. She recalls the night Idai hit vividly: “My house was shaking. The roof was made of grass. Within seconds the house was flooded, water carried my house and everything inside it into the river. I just thank God I got my children and grabbed 5 others in time. My granary was destroyed, and my home. I have never seen anything like it. All I took with me was one blanket. My bike I used to sell cakes from was also taken by the water. I am just grateful we finally have food. No one knows what the future holds. Time has passed but still we are trying to rebuild.”

Tearfund country representative in Mozambique, Edgar Jone whose family lost part of their house in the storm explains: “I remember the sheer panic of not being able to contact my family as Idai ripped through Beira and everything went dark. We are now six months on and although we have managed to help over 68,000 people, there are still two million people facing food shortages and thousands are still in camps.

“We desperately need more funding, but aside from that, we also need donor governments to step up - help make vulnerable people more resilient and follow through on their promises to halting this climate emergency.

“The main harvest for the year in March was totally destroyed by the cyclone. Children can’t go to school as thousands of their classrooms have been torn apart by the winds and rain. People can’t work. They can’t eat. There is no maize crop. In some areas, where there should be rain, there is now drought. We are providing emergency food, planting resilient crops and helping people cope with what is to come, but the problem is bigger than us.’’

To help those affected by Cyclone Idai please go to www.tearfund.org/cyclone and to join Tearfund’s Renew Our World global campaign on climate change please visit https://renewourworld.net/

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