URGENT - We are delivering aid into Gaza, but much more is needed
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Accept All Cookies

Girls Displaced by Cyclone Idai Face Increased Risk of Gender-Based Abuse


Plan International has scaled up its response to Tropical Cyclone Idai across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, with hundreds of thousands in desperate need of assistance.

The Irish government’s support of over €1 million in funding in response to Cyclone Idai was warmly welcomed by the leading girls’ rights agency.

Plan International is supporting search and rescue operations and distributing essential household items in coordination with national governments, local partners and other humanitarian organisations.

Over 750 people have died in the three countries, with Mozambique recording the highest death toll. The toll is expected to rise further.

The number of people affected by the disaster is also climbing. Some 1.7 million people are said to be affected across southern Africa. In Malawi, close to a million people have been affected – nearly half are children.

Plan International’s Gerald Magashi is on the ground in Beira – the most severely affected city in Mozambique. He said:

“The situation in Beira is dire. It looks like all the houses have been wiped out. There’s no power, there’s no fuel, even communication is really difficult. There are no roofs on houses, they have been blown away. People are sleeping outside.”

Plan International’s key priority is to ensure that anyone who is displaced has access to food, shelter, clothing and blankets to keep them warm in windy night-time conditions. The organisation is also concerned about the impact of the disaster on children, particularly adolescent girls, who are uniquely vulnerable.

Additional safety risks for girls

Displaced girls living in shelters are especially at risk of gender-based violence. Across the three countries affected by Cyclone Idai, many people are sheltering in overcrowded schools, churches and public buildings with communal bathroom facilities, increasing their vulnerability to potential risks.

Stuart Katwikirize, Plan International’s Regional Head of Disaster Risk Management, said:

“We are focusing on the needs of adolescent girls in our response. Our priority is to ensure their needs are met as much as possible, including providing protection and the distribution of dignity kits.”

The organisation is also concerned about the potential for malaria and waterborne diseases to spread due to the flooding, which would put people, especially the most vulnerable like young children, at risk.

Anne Hoff, Country Director for Plan International Mozambique, said:

“Emergencies often cause already fragile water and sanitation systems to break down or become damaged. This puts people, especially the most vulnerable, such as the young, elderly or those with disabilities at risk.”

“Emergencies put girls and young women in particular in a very vulnerable situation. Also, lack of access to clean water increases the likelihood of an outbreak of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera.”

Plan International is on the ground distributing blankets, dignity kits and utensils to affected families, as well as mosquito nets and water purification tablets – which can be lifesaving.

Plan International Ireland has launched an emergency appeal to assist those impacted by the disaster.