Cyclone Freddy, one of the longest and most powerful tropical storms ever recorded ravaged our villages as it swept across the coast of Mozambique last week.
Freddy first reached Mozambique on 24 February causing serious damage to crops and infrastructure affecting an estimated 239,000 people in Zambezia alone. The second, far more powerful landfall came on the 10th March with an even more devastating impact. Rainfall brought by Freddy reached more than 600mm in some places, more than four times greater than the average monthly precipitation during the rainy season. Maximum winds reached 148 km/hour and gusts of up to 213 km/h. The city of Quelimane resembled a war zone and was plunged into total darkness for several weeks.
The lack of water has led to a serious cholera outbreak that is spreading rapidly. In addition, there are fears of an increase in cases of other waterborne diseases like diarrhoea, as well as malaria and this situation is likely to get worse the longer it continues. The cholera hospital in Quelimane town is at full capacity undermining government attempts to prevent the rapid spread of these diseases.
The Government has been praised for having issued clear warnings and advised people in advance of the cyclone to place heavy rocks on the thatch of their houses to prevent the roof being swept away by the cyclone, thereby saving many of the rooves of houses. However, no aid or compensation of any kind has been delivered on the ground and the Government is relying on international aid agencies to step in. The aid agencies are still discussing their plans and attempting to develop a coordinated response.
Impact on Supinho and Idugo
Communication with and access to Supinho and Idugo by road is extremely difficult as the roads have turned into rivers, electricity poles have collapsed and communication networks are absent.
As soon as access was possible, the Foundation Team went to both communities to see for themselves the damage done and to find out first hand from local people and the community leaders the main problems and short term priorities and needs of the people.
Extensive damage to houses and other buildings
In both communities, there has been extensive damage to houses and thousands of families have been exposed to the elements. Idugo has been worst affected with an estimated 3,456 houses destroyed affecting over 11,000 people.
As well as houses, there has been damage to the schools in both communities resulting from collapsed rooves over the classrooms. Several buildings, including the community centres and the maternity centre have lost windows.
Buildings damaged and/or destroyed include the schools in both communities, the church and the house of the maternity staff.
Threat of starvation
In both communities, crops and fields have been inundated resulting in loss of food and livelihoods for thousands of families. Most families depend on the food they grow, prrimarily potatoes and cassava, on their individual farms for their daily diet. This situation is further compounded by lack of flour and cassava due to the lack of road access from the town. In addition, the staple rice crop has been flooded and this spells hunger and misery for thousands of families in the regions.
Access to health services
In Idugo, the maternity centre withstood the storm, but has been without light and water due to the damage to the solar panels used for power. In the case of Supinho, flooding of the roads in the area has restricted access to the nearest health centre situated some 5 kilometres away in Malanha village. Furthermore, the health centre in Malanha also suffered serious damage and has no roof and not water and power.
Support for Supinho and Idugo
The Zalala Foundation immediately launched an appeal for emergency relief to meet the priority needs of both communities. The general consensus in both communities was the getting the children back in school is the first priority.
In line with instructions provided by the schools, a total of 1500 school packs each containing pencils, pens, rubber, sharpener, exercise books and a plastic cover to hold everything together were purchased and delivered to the schoolchildren in Idugo and Supinho.
Your help is desperately needed
Other priorities identified to date by the team are:
- Seeds (beans, corn, potatoes, mandioca) and agricultural tools (machetes, hoes) are urgently needed so people can grow food for domestic consumption
- All three schools have lost their rooves and these urgently need replacing so children are not exposed to the elements
- Housing for the teachers in Idugo and in Supinho
- Replacement of solar panels to provide light and water for the Maternity Centre in Idugo
- Replacement of broken windows and other damages in the Maternity Centre and the house of the nursing staff
- Distribution of disinfectant for drinking water to prevent spread of malaria and cholera
Funds raised by the Zalala Foundation to date have enabled us to provide school materials and will also be used to address some of the above priorities. But we still need more support to meet all the priority needs listed above. We are appealing to all our supporters to give as generously as you can.