It’s been just over a week since Cyclone Idai made landfall on the south eastern coast of Africa, tearing through central Mozambique, before moving on to wreak further devastation in neighbouring Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Strong winds and widespread flooding ripped apart roads, bridges, houses, schools and health facilities and submerged vast swathes of agricultural land.
The death toll stands at 750 but is expected rise. An estimated 3 million people have been affected; equivalent to the population of Wales. Although most river levels may have now peaked, flooding remains severe and the full scale of the disaster has yet to become clear as search and rescue operations continue.
With little clean water available, cholera cases have been reported and there is a high risk of outbreaks of other waterborne diseases. This is rapidly becoming one of the most pressing humanitarian emergencies in the world at the moment.
Imagine the area from Newport to Porthcawl completely submerged under dirty water, or even the whole of Anglesey. This is what has happened in the Sofala district of central Mozambique, where nothing has been visible above water for 50km.
The situation is so dire that the UK’s leading aid agencies who make up the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launched an urgent joint public appeal for funds last Thursday. Since then Wales has raised an impressive £562,100.00 for the appeal, but the need is great and we must keep the momentum going.
In Mozambique, we’re hearing stories of bodies floating in the water and entire villages being wiped out. In Zimbabwe, there’s simply no more room in one district’s mortuary. And in Malawi, homes are still collapsing under the deluge.
The immediate and primary focus is of course to save lives with search and rescue operations. Reaching affected communities is enormously challenging; bridges have been washed away and entire villages have been cut off, but aid is starting to get through.
DEC charities are working closely with national partners to deliver emergency shelter kits, food such as pulses and maize flour, water purification tablets and urgent health assistance.
As an Assembly Member I am working with Love Zimbabwe, a local charity linking Wales with that part of Africa through projects to improve health, wellbeing and community development. We hope to build activity, widen and strengthen the relationship recognising the level of need in Zimbabwe and the mutual benefit from working together. Responding and helping in a crisis, as with the current disaster and emergency, shows true commitment and friendship when most needed.
March is the main harvest season but people’s crops have been destroyed; crops they rely on to feed themselves and their families, and income they need for school fees and other essentials. Aid agencies report that food prices are already rocketing as a result. Elsewhere children are unable to go to school – 45,000 students in Mozambique alone have been affected. And the threat of an outbreak of serious disease is growing.
While the human cost of losing your loved ones, your home and your harvest is impossible to quantify, the future financial cost will be eye watering. The bill will run into billions of dollars.
In these situations, the speed and quality of the response is vital. Lives can be saved. And then they can be rebuilt. But the kits and the crops don’t drop out of thin air. Small amounts of money in our weekly budgets have a huge impact when spent in places that are much poorer, and on people more desperate than us.
It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of such overwhelming events but we can do something. We can all do something. With your help, there is hope.
Every donation will save lives and livelihoods.
This will ensure that charities working on the ground support people now and in the future; first reaching the men, women and children who have been left homeless and are in urgent need of food, water and temporary shelter, and later supporting children to continue their education, people to rebuild their lives and strengthen their communities’ resilience to best withstand future disasters.
£30 can provide blankets to keep two families warm.
£50 could provide a family with food for one month.
£100 could help build toilet and washing facilities for families who lost their homes.
This is urgent. Immediate. Our friends and their families need our support. Please donate at www.dec.org.uk or text HELPU to 70000 to donate £5 today.
All articles published on Click on Wales are subject to IWA’s disclaimer.
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