Critical time for Cyclone Idai survivors

April 18, 2019

Emergency distributions of relief supplies are well under way in both Malawi and Mozambique, but families devastated by Cyclone Idai are now facing their most critical challenge. Getting seeds into the ground quickly could be the difference between starvation and survival.

Getting through to those in need

It’s just over a month since Cyclone Idai brought 175mph gusts and widespread flooding to Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, and the crisis is very far from over. The priorities identified by our rapid assessment teams are food, seeds, and shelter, and Concern has been responding accordingly.

Workers unload bundles of blankets and bedding from a truck at a distribution in Ndeja, Mozambique

Workers unload bundles of blankets and bedding from a truck at a distribution in Ndeja, Mozambique. Photo: Tommy Trenchard

Food distributions, in partnership with the U.N. and other agencies, have been taking place in some of the most affected areas. Access has been a big problem, with soft ground, damaged roads, and destroyed bridges hampering the relief effort. But we are getting through.

Help us reach flood victims with life-saving essentials like clean water, and shelter, and seeds for a new harvest:

People wade across a river in flood near Nhamatanda, Mozambique.

People wade across a river in flood near Nhamatanda, Mozambique. Cyclone Idai has disrupted infrastructure across the country, impacting livelihoods and hampering aid efforts. Photo: Tommy Trenchard

Concern has also airlifted in essential items from outside the region, which had been stockpiled for rapid response to emergencies such as this. These include tarpaulins and rope for temporary shelter, water containers, household utensils, mosquito nets, and hygiene products.

In Malawi, our teams have organized cash transfers to allow households to buy what they need most, as in some places local markets are functioning well. It’s an effective way to work and contributes to the local economy.

A cash distribution of 15,000 Malawi Kwacha.

A cash distribution of 15,000 Malawi Kwacha. Photo: Gavin Douglas

Speed is of the essence

Cyclone Idai wiped away millions of acres of maize and other crops, which were almost ready for harvest, and this was the biggest blow of all. Most people in rural areas rely on subsistence agriculture for survival — they eat what they grow — and there is little or no backup. In southern Malawi and Central Mozambique there is now a short window of time for people to plant replacement crops, and speed is of the essence. The ground is moist, and fast-maturing varieties of grains and legumes can grow to maturity before it becomes too dry. But this has to happen quickly.

Recently married Patrick Ghembo of Monyo Village, Malawi, standing in his field, destroyed by the floods.

Recently married Patrick Ghembo of Monyo Village, Malawi, standing in his field, destroyed by the floods. He and his wife will stay at a displacement camp until the floods have fully subsided. Photo: Gavin Douglas

“These people have survived one disaster — it’s up to us to help prevent another.”

Working with the Food and Agriculture Organization and our partners Cesvi and Welthungerhilfe, we are sourcing and distributing seeds as fast as we can. In the words of Concern’s Director of Emergency Operations, Ros O’Sullivan, “These people have survived one disaster — it’s up to us to help prevent another.”

Help us rush life-saving aid to flood victims today:

Fresh shoots of maize poke through the earth on Manuele Zivanhane's farm in Ndeja, Mozambique.

Fresh shoots of maize poke through the earth on Manuele Zivanhane’s farm in Ndeja, Mozambique. Zivanhane planted them just five days previously after receiving the seeds from Concern, along with other items.  Photo: Tommy Trenchard