Cyclone Idai barreled through Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe over the weekend of March 15-17, 2019, leaving thousands of people displaced. Reports suggested an estimate of 84 people confirmed dead in Mozambique. According to Mozambique’s president, Felipe Nyusi, however, the death toll was likely rise to nearly 1,000 people in Mozambique alone. In total, more than 1.7 million people were being affected throughout the three countries in the aftermath of the cyclone.
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared a national emergency after the powerful cyclone devastated Zimbabwe, killing at least 98 people. Bridges and roads were destroyed, more than 100 houses collapsed, and more than 70 people were reported missing. Ongoing rescue efforts continued in Zimbabwe and throughout hardest-hit areas in Mozambique and Malawi.
“It’s very rare that a cyclone of this magnitude occurred in this part of the world and caused so much mayhem,” said Mario de Oliveira, emergency management director for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). “A lot of our efforts right now are devoted to getting food, shelter, and clean water for the people most affected in the Chimanimani and Chipinge districts. It’s been difficult, though, as there are numerous roadblocks to get to people, and electricity has been down, cutting off access to communication.”
ADRA has been on the ground since the cyclone moved out of Zimbabwe, helping up to 650 households with food and hygiene kits, with plans to provide further assistance in hardest-hit areas. ADRA was also helping people in Mozambique and Malawi recover from heavy floods that affected thousands before the cyclone’s landfall.
On March 18, ADRA deployed 1,000 shelter kits and 2,000 tarpaulins in the port city of Beira, Mozambique, with the assistance of a UN flight convoy, Oliveira added. “We are also in the process of deploying to Malawi emergency kits from our depots in Nairobi.”
Though the cyclone passed, heavy rains continued to pour, causing a rise in flood waters. Among those affected were students, as reportedly more than 200 classrooms were destroyed in four provinces in Mozambique.
ADRA was working with local authorities, humanitarian organizations, and local Adventist churches to avoid duplication of aid relief and mobilize additional resources in Zimbabwe, organization leaders said.