By Akanimo Sampson
Around 38,000 Mozambicans have now received shelter aid – either tarpaulins to replace destroyed roofs, or full tents – in a concerted international response to devastation brought by Cyclone Idai, one of the worst natural disasters to strike this African country in decades.
More than half of those beneficiaries – at least 20,450 people – have been directly assisted by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and its international partners, including Oxfam, Save the Children, Red Cross, Care, World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse.
Since the start of the humanitarian response, IOM has received in kind contributions of shelter material and non-food items from Italy, United Kingdom, the USA and Switzerland. On behalf of the shelter cluster, IOM is coordinating the distribution of those materials via its partners.
Some three weeks after Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique, its impact can be seen everywhere in this port city: downed power lines; forests uprooted and trees scattered across roads and farmland; thousands of families waiting for shelter in schools that were set to open this week for spring classes.
To those obstacles in Mozambique’s second-largest city, there are others to mention, even more dire. Reports of malaria are being added to an earlier-reported scourge: cholera.
To respond, IOM has deployed more than 30 national and international staff. They have come not just to Beira, but also to Maputo and Tete. The latter is a rural zone in the country’s highland north, where rains before Cyclone Idai swept through settlements only recently established for some 12,000 Mozambicans who fled into Malawi during a surge of civil conflict in 2016 and have been putting their lives back together (although some have since returned home or moved to nearby communities).
United Nations and government officials agree at least 1.85 million people have been affected by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. IOM is appealing for USD 36.4 million for its emergency response for the next six months. The United Nations is urgently seeking an additional USD 282 million of relief aid over the next three months through to June 30, 2019.
Parallel to shelter distribution, IOM is also actively supporting the government on camp set-up and camp coordination. IOM has identified over 105,000 needy Mozambicans in 115 temporary settlements in Sofala, the province whose largest city is Beira.
On Friday, March 29, IOM worked in partnership with a fire brigade sent by the government of Portugal to remove fallen trees and other debris from farmland next to the Ifapa school compound near Beira’s airport.
With chainsaws buzzing amid the sounds of tree branches crashing to the ground, sixteen fire-fighters cleared enough debris from a field of newly harvested cassava plants to place at least 50 emergency tents donated to IOM by UK Aid. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has seconded two staffers, logistics expert Julian Rust and site planner Andreas Cippa.
“The challenge here is to face the overwhelming need, and at the same time channel the huge amount of incoming cargo that has been donated and is still coming in,” said Julian Rust. “Working with so many organizations in our logistics cluster has been inspiring for me. These people really know what they’re doing. Everyone is working hard.”