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Survivors of Cyclone Idai Face Renewed Crisis


The heavy rain and flooding caused by Cyclone Idai has left communities in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi exposed to waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and malaria as tens of thousands of people are stranded in camps with few toilets and little clean water.

As of 12 April there have been over 4,000 cases of cholera which is continuing to rise. Once contracted, cholera can dehydrate and kill a child within six hours.

Treatment for cholera can involve simple rehydration but more severe cases need intravenous drips.

An estimated 129,600 children are in need of humanitarian assistance. Children are the most affected in emergencies as they have lost their families and places to live.

Landslides, rock falls, and flooding have swept away houses, schools, roads and food supplies. The primary concern is the safety, security and needs of children, especially girls. The humanitarian organisation Plan International is running search and rescue boats for missing people.

When Cyclone Idai hit the small town of Buzi in Sofala province, Mozambique, 20-year-old Amela had just given birth to her third child, a little daughter.

Amela was at home with her husband, her sister-in-law, and her two children aged six and four, when the cyclone struck.

Amela’s house was torn down and flooded. She and her family were forced to flee. In the confusion, the family ran in different directions – Amela ran to the nearest tree with her newborn, losing sight of her husband, her two older children and her sister-in-law.

All I could think about was saving myself and my baby”, she says. “I climbed on top of a tree.”

Speaking from a camp set up for some of the 128,000 people displaced by the cyclone in Mozambique, Amela recalls with tears in her eyes:

“I spent four days on top of the tree before I saw a boat coming. I was so tired but so happy that help was finally coming.”

Amela made it to safety with more than 800 others – including numerous unaccompanied children and expectant mothers – after being rescued by one of several motor boats manned by Plan International.

Manito Mavilingue, Sponsorship Field Officer at Plan International Mozambique, is one of several staff members from the organisation manning boats rescuing people like Amala.

The people stranded on the tops of their homes were truly desperate and feeling despair,” says Mr Mavilingue. “Some of them had seen their family members falling from trees and buildings and swept away by the flood waters and it was clear once they’d reached safety that many were left traumatised.”

Thankfully, Amela’s eldest children both survived the cyclone. Amela has learned that they are being cared for by her sister in law, who escaped to a relative’s house on the other side of town.

Her husband was not so lucky. Just before speaking to Plan International, Amela received the news that he had drowned in the floods.

Plan International teams on the ground have scaled up the emergency response over the past few weeks to provide life-saving supplies for thousands of survivors like Amela.

Earlier this week the humanitarian organisation flew in over 96 tonnes of emergency supplies. The emergency kits include tarpaulin, blankets, hygiene kits, mosquito nets and cooking utensils.

Plan International are distributing sanitation and hygiene kits to reduce the spread of water borne diseases as well as dignity kits to adolescent girls with menstrual and hygiene products.