Cyclone Idai one month on: Food shortages outpacing funding

 Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe
 Advocacy
 12th Apr 2019

Beira/Harare/Lilongwe, April 14, 2019 – The effects of last month’s Cyclone Idai are threatening to bring a catastrophic hunger crisis compounded by the existing food insecurity across Southern Africa, CARE International experts warn.

One month since the destructive storm swept across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, the humanitarian situation remains critical. Hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their livelihoods and require external assistance to survive.

Matthew Pickard, CARE International Regional Manager for Central and Southern Africa, said: “Hundreds of hectares of crops have been lost and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes; basic services have not yet been fully re-established. Simply put, the recovery from this disaster hasn’t begun yet and that is going to have a massive adverse impact on the ability of families to recovery from this catastrophe.

Pickard added: “We urgently need to implement robust food assistance and early recovery activities particularly looking at supporting affected families to replant the crops they lost in the cyclone and floods, if we can get seed to families quickly they can take advantage of the residual moisture in the ground and they should be able to grow enough food to support their families throughout the year. If we miss this window of opportunity the consequences for these families would be catastrophic.  We are therefore calling on the international community and other donors to dig deep and urgently find additional funds to support the life-saving response.”

Described by the UN as "one of the deadliest storms on record in the southern hemisphere", Idai made landfall the night of March 14 near the Mozambican port city of Beira, bringing heavy winds and rains. The storm then moved inland to neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi causing devastating destruction of farmlands and livelihoods.

The situation is particularly alarming in Mozambique where hundreds of thousands of people live in temporary shelters as their homes have been destroyed. The floodwaters that left a large part of central Mozambique a vast inland sea are draining away, revealing swathes of agricultural land desolate. Rice and maize fields were destroyed and unless families are able to replant quickly they will face a severe food shortage in the month ahead.

Marc Nosbach, Country Director for CARE in Mozambique, said: “Even before the cyclone, more than 40 per cent of children in Mozambique were physically stunted, according to the UN. Now this may worsen due to food shortages.

"The challenge we are still facing is around resources, capacity and funding. Thousands of people remain in hard to reach areas of Mozambique, surrounded by floodwater. The heavy lifting that is needed to get the people and resources to reach those in need is costly and requires fast and flexible funding to do so.

“Despite the comprehensive destruction and enormity of needs, the response so far is only 18% funded. Whilst donors have been generous in terms of the initial military assets to aid the search and rescue phase, more money is needed now to be channeled to organisations on the ground to scale up the response to provide basic life-saving support,” Nosbach explained.

CARE experts in Zimbabwe note that Idai’s decimation of livelihoods and food security has been compounded by the extensive damage to infrastructure.

CARE Emergency Coordinator, Abel Whande, said: “In this region (Chimanimani) most of the people affected are reliant on agriculture for their livelihoods and often their own survival. The cyclone struck when people were on the last of their food before the next harvest.

“CARE's approach on early recovery includes supporting communities with cash-for-work initiatives that will empower them to buy food stuffs at the markets; and have the independence to recover their farming livelihoods. We are placing women and girls at the center of our market assessments and ensuring that they are the prime beneficiaries as this disaster has affected them the most.”

For media queries, please contact:

Henry Makiwa, Senior Humanitarian Communications Coordinator, CARE International – makiwa@careinternational.org

Ninja Taprogge, Emergency Communications Officer, currently deployed to Beira, Mozambique, taprogge@care.de, + 258 85 287 7162.

Abderite Bie, Communications Officer, CARE Mozambique, Aderito.Bie@care.org, + 258 84 652 1549 or + 258 86 869 8863

Read more about CARE's work in MozambiqueMalawi, and Zimbabwe.

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