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Tearfund warns that food shortages will follow in the wake of Cyclone Idai

19 Mar 2019

Tearfund is providing food, shelter and essential cooking utensils to people affected by severe floods in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi following a catastrophic cyclone last week.

Cyclone Idai made landfall in the port city of Beira on Thursday 14 March with wind speeds of up to 106 mph and has wreaked havoc across the region destroying homes and devastating crops, infrastructure and livelihoods.

The full extent of the damage is still unknown. Predictions suggest that the death toll may reach as many as 1,000 in Mozambique alone, with thousands more displaced and left homeless.

Tearfund is working with local partners to assess the needs of the affected population and offer assistance and support. So far, £53,000 has been released to provide food and temporary shelter across the three affected countries. Tearfund also plans to distribute seeds to mitigate the risk of food shortages in the medium term as the cyclone and floods destroyed mature crops that were ready for harvesting.

Tearfund’s Country Director in Mozambique, Edgar Jone, explained: ‘This is a catastrophe. It’s a huge setback for the work we are doing to support people to overcome poverty in Mozambique. Our priority now is to reach those people who have lost so much and support them to get back on their feet. Cyclone Idai has destroyed so much in an instance, and it will take years for people to recover what they have lost.’

Earnest Maswera, Tearfund’s Country Director in Zimbabwe, said: ‘This is the worst possible time for this to happen as people would have been harvesting in the next couple of weeks. The loss of crops aggravates existing challenges we have been facing because even before the floods 5.3 million people had been experiencing food shortages and this will increase significantly.

‘In Zimbabwe, the cyclone killed at least 86 people and caused immeasurable destruction to houses, farms and infrastructure. Roads and bridges have been destroyed making access by relief workers near impossible. We are working together with our partner Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe to offer water and sanitation solutions to those affected in Buhera district as well as trauma counselling for those who are bereaved. We plan on distributing food, blankets and essential utensils to at least 300 households who have lost everything.’ In Malawi, the country was already enduring floods before Cyclone Idai hit the region.

Vincent Moyo, Tearfund’s Country Director for Malawi said: ‘We are working with our partner Eagles to support people affected by flooding in Chikwawa district. The excess rains have caused the deaths of more than 56 people and destroyed over 22,000 homes, displacing over 110,000. Currently we need plastic tarpaulins for shelter, food and clean treated water that is safe to drink. We are also aiming to prevent water borne diseases that may arise as a result of the floods.’

To donate to Tearfund’s Disaster Relief Fund please visit


For further information or interview requests call Tearfund Media Team on 0208 3906 3131. For out of hours media enquiries please call +44 (0)7498 540276.

Notes to editors:

Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency and a member of the Disasters’ Emergency Committee. Founded in 1968, Tearfund has been working around the world for more than 50 years responding to disasters and helping lift communities out of poverty. For more information about the work of Tearfund, please visit

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