Cyclone Idai Media brief
Marco TAMBURRO, Program Director for Humanity & Inclusion Mozambique
"In Beira, where we have worked for several years, our team had previously identified highly vulnerable community members, as part of one of our inclusion projects. It is to these particularly fragile people that we will orient our first aid distributions."
"We know from years of experience that in this kind of disaster, people with disability, older people, and those with illness or chronic conditions are particularly vulnerable, because they cannot always go out to seek help for themselves. Imagine the situation of an older person who lives alone in his home, and who is already struggling to get around on a regular basis. When such a disaster occurs, this older person needs specific help because they cannot often go to an aid distribution point.”
"The official death toll is now close to 200. However, we know that in some rural areas, the water has risen by 26 feet (or 8 meters). We expect the final death toll to be much higher."
View from Beira
"Torrential rains and high winds directly impacted the coastal city of Beira, home to more than half a million people. Today, 80% of this city remains flooded."
"We have a team that lives and works in Beira. Regular communication is still complicated, because the communications network is generally cut off. Two of our team members lost part of the roofs of their homes. They say that most roads are flooded or cut off. This implies that most aid delivery must be on foot. And the situation should not improve, because rain is forecast for the area for the next several days. It’s important to know that the city of Beira is located at the mouth of a river, leaving it very exposing to floods.”
Isolated, highly vulnerable people
"Media have focused on the city of Beira, but we are especially concerned about the tens of thousands people who live in the surrounding villages, and the flooded rural areas. These people remain isolated from the world. They have been without help since last Friday."
Fractured health care system
"According to the United Nations, the emergency wing of the Beira Central Hospital remains out of service due to significant damage. However, other parts of the hospital - including the pediatric wing - have suffered less damage and seem to work. The Munhava District Health Center in Beira City was also damaged and the roof collapsed. This means that access to the care of the wounded may be very limited at a time when it is critical for the injured to have rapid access to avoid infections or permanent disabilities.”
The next disaster: water born?
"The damage caused by this Cyclone has already lead to a lack of hygiene (in particular due to the accumulation of waste and overflowing sewage channels), and a lack of access to safe drinking water. This can be exacerbated if water treatment plants are damaged.”
“This reinforces the risk of epidemics related to water: cholera, malaria with proliferation of mosquitoes, or, less systematically, respiratory infections. In coastal areas, it is common for saltwater to seep into drinking water points, rendering them unsuitable for consumption."
Aid actors cannot exclude
"It is essential to teach and support our fellow humanitarian organizations, so they can take into account groups of people who are potentially more vulnerable than others (children, pregnant women, older people and those with disability) during a disaster. These individuals need access to basic services, including humanitarian assistance (health care, rehabilitation sessions, food distributions, etc.)"
HI’s plan of action
Humanity & Inclusion is already strengthening its teams in Mozambique. One of the first reinforcement teams will evaluate barriers to access, and constraints related to cut-off roads, and floodwaters.
It’s imperative that clearing operations begin, so that humanitarian assistance can reach the most isolated people. The challenge is to successfully clear roads when debris and sludge are currently blocking traffic patterns.
Humanity & Inclusion will help complete a wider mapping of vulnerable populations.
Humanity & Inclusion will ensure that the emergency response is inclusive for people with disabilities, older people and vulnerable groups, so they can access essential aid, and specific assistance to make their situation more comfortable.
Urgent appeal for donations
Humanity & Inclusion's donation appeal went live on Tuesday March 19, and can be found here: www.hi-us.org/mozcyclone