20 MAR 2019
Oxfam appeals for aid as thousands still at risk after Cyclone Idai
Oxfam staff speak of desperation, loss of hope and home, people in treetops
Oxfam Hong Kong launched a public appeal to respond to the floods in the Southern Africa. Oxfam’s initial aims are to reach up to 500,000 people – hopefully more – including in partnership with other international and local NGO partners, to help people hit by Cyclone Idai.
The number of casualties and affected people are set to rise from the 2 million currently estimated. Rains are still falling and waters rising in some areas. The destruction of roads, bridges and communications means that some areas are still completely cut off, and this is hampering aid efforts.
Oxfam Country Directors in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe all speak of a sense of people’s desperation in the hardest-hit areas, and of widespread destruction of crops and livelihoods.
Rotafina Donco from Mozambique said there are people flooded from their homes and now in transit camps who have not eaten for days. She said some people were still waiting to be rescued, clinging to treetops or on mountainsides. ‘Food prices are rocketing,’ she said.
Machinda Marongwe from Zimbabwe spoke of ‘seeing the pain in people’s faces. Their hope is gone. Disaster following disaster.’ Some people were without any clean water. ‘Aid could give them some hope … hope that others are listening and wanting to help them.’
John Makina of Malawi said that in the camps, where displaced people have congregated, ‘you can see how awfully they have been affected.’ He said, ‘Some communities could only be able to be reached by helicopter or boat. Sanitation in some places is just absent. People are having to defecate in the bush – this will lead to bad water-borne disease.’
The cyclone with winds of 170km/hr and heavy rains hit the port city of Beira in Mozambique where 90 per cent of the land is under water and communications are cut off. Sergio Zimba, Oxfam in Mozambique’s Communications Officer, has just arrived there: ‘We are trying to get around this problem, but there are huge logistical challenges. There are no cars here. We are determined to save lives and working around the clock to ensure effective logistics can be put in place.’
Netsai Shambira, Oxfam’s Regional Women’s Rights and Gender Justice Coordinator, said: ‘We are conducting a rapid gender analysis to inform our responses because women and children are the most affected when disasters like this strike. Ensuring that they are safe and protected is important considering the long distances they are travelling.’
Oxfam has worked in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe for over 20 years. Oxfam’s initial response is being planned around sanitation, health and hygiene, trying to ensure people have access to clean water, and also food aid. In the long run, Oxfam will also support vulnerable households in a variety of ways. For instance, it will:
- Support alternative cropping options for the winter months
- Rehabilitate broken boreholes and pipelines to ensure long term access to clean water
- Rehabilitate communal toilets and bathrooms and conduct hygiene promotion activities to prevent water borne diseases
- Train community volunteers to raise awareness of gender-based violence in evacuation centres and the communities
Oxfam is a worldwide development organisation that mobilises the power of people against poverty.
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