Cyclone Idai: life after the devastation as cholera emergency now threatens

Mozambique confirmed the first death from the waterborne disease on Monday

Tuesday 02 April 2019 13:50 BST

Just over two weeks ago, Cyclone Idai swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. More than 740 people were killed and almost 3 million were left in need of humanitarian assistance after strong winds and widespread flooding ripped apart roads, houses, schools and health facilities – and submerged vast swathes of agricultural land.

Cyclone Idai is possibly the worst weather-related disaster to ever hit the southern hemisphere. It devastated massive areas and displaced hundreds of thousands of people across the region. However, the full impact of the disaster has yet to be established and difficulties in reaching some areas continue as many bridges were washed away.

As flood levels begin to recede, work to clear debris, reopen roads and reconnect electricity and water supplies has started. Some who fled their homes as flood waters rose are returning and aid is getting through.

However, a second emergency is looming as waterborne diseases threaten survivors. There have been reports of people drinking stagnant water from street puddles and of one the shelters is home to 3,000 people with just six toilets. Cholera cases have been confirmed and the number of reported incidences has jumped from five to 246 in Mozambique alone.

Supplying clean water remains a significant challenge and member charities of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) are rushing to deliver drinking water, toilets and handwashing facilities.

At times of very great need, the DEC brings together a unique alliance of 14 of the UK’s leading aid charities and broadcasters to maximise fundraising and quickly deliver effective emergency relief. The DEC’s Cyclone Idai Appeal was launched on 21 March and has now raised over £25m. The UK government matched the £4m donated by the public to the appeal.

The immediate and primary focus of the relief effort is to save lives, but the effect of this disaster will be felt for some time. DEC charities are working closely with national partners to support the rescue and relief effort, deliver emergency shelter materials and blankets, food and urgent health assistance and trauma counselling.

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