It’s been eight weeks since Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique, bringing destructive winds and torrential rain that created dangerous flooding, effectively creating an inland sea and cutting off multiple communities for more than a week.
More than 1,000 people across the region were killed as a result, and 1.85 million people left in need of assistance in Mozambique alone. Widespread flooding also impacted the neighboring countries of Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Water sources, crops, buildings, roads, and other infrastructure were damaged or destroyed, creating an extended and complex emergency response period, as government agencies and international responders raced to reach stranded communities in Mozambique.
Weeks Later, a Second Cyclone
Then on April 25, Tropical Cyclone Kenneth struck northern Mozambique between the districts of Macomia and Mocimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado province. Kenneth is the strongest recorded cyclone to hit Mozambique. So far there have been 45 recorded cyclone-related fatalities and a cholera outbreak has been declared.
Direct Relief’s Response
After Idai made landfall, Direct Relief dispatched an emergency response team to coordinate with local authorities, UN agencies, local partners, to assess the need and damage in the affected area, and to prepare for incoming donations of medicines and medical supplies.
The team worked closely with local partners Health Alliance International and the Chissano Foundation, while also coordinating with United Nations and government agencies. In the initial stages of the response, communities remained besieged by floodwaters and some 1.8 million people in Mozambique were in need of assistance. Direct Relief’s key local partner, Health Alliance International, has been working in Mozambique for three decades, and was uniquely placed to understand the key health needs and potential pressure points in the health system.
This experience and local expertise led to a focus on supporting primary health clinics that are the initial point of entry into the health system, particularly for pregnant and new mothers. This knowledge, combined with the need to respond to the cholera outbreak, shaped Direct Relief’s delivery of medicines, medical supplies, and funding.
As a result of an outpouring of support from donors around the world, Direct Relief has delivered or has in transit 16 tons of medicines and supplies worth more than $3.6 million to partner agencies and healthcare facilities caring for cyclone survivors in Mozambique and Malawi since the disaster, and has also provided cash grants to locally-run organizations to help with recovery efforts.
Working in conjunction with a number of companies to acquire in-kind resources – medicines, supplies, and transportation – enabled Direct Relief to leverage the generous support from donors and ultimately help more people in Mozambique and across the affected region.
With the objective of making the most efficient and effective humanitarian intervention with the resources available, Direct Relief has been coordinating with experienced local partners; gathering, mapping and analyzing data on the spread of cholera and the movement of populations in cooperation with the WHO; and conducting direct on-the-ground health facility assessment and government coordination by way of the Direct Relief Emergency Response Team. This triangulation of conversation, observation, and hard quantitative data has shaped Direct Relief’s response.
From Disaster to Recovery
Direct Relief – as a matter of policy – is committed to spending 100 percent of the remaining Cyclone Idai donated funds in the affected areas. These funds will be used to strengthen primary healthcare infrastructure, specifically focusing on the provision of services to the most vulnerable people in society and help to prepare communities for future disasters.
Direct Relief’s efforts have focused on, and will continue, in four areas:
1. Supporting Primary Health Care & Primary Health Facility Rehabilitation – Providing cash and medical support to partners to enable rehabilitation and function of primary health facilities in the most affected provinces of Beira and Sofala.
2. Targeting Maternal and Child Health Vulnerability – Looking to provide cash grants, midwife kits and other maternal and child health supplies to support midwives and birthing centers serving the affected population. Direct Relief will also continue to support facilities conducting fistula repair in Mozambique.
3. Responding to Cholera – Providing high-level data mapping to support the national and WHO cholera response. As well as, procuring and assembling donations of cholera response medicines and supplies based on need and cholera mapping.
4. Building Resiliency: Disaster Preparedness – Looking to prepare local partners for future cyclone disasters by providing Emergency Health Kits, Emergency Medical Backpacks, and other medical materials and to ensure health facilities are built back better.
Direct Relief’s ongoing response will continue to support needed medical services while helping to rebuild local health systems and strengthen resiliency in the hardest-hit areas.