Cyclone Idai: Thousands still homeless in Malawi, Mozambique


Tens of thousands of people are still homeless in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, a year after Cyclone Idai devastated parts of the three countries.

According to Amnesty International, these people are still trapped in appalling conditions with inadequate shelter or sanitation.

The organization said on Friday that inadequate and dwindling financial support for recovery programs from the international community, and the slow pace of government rebuilding efforts across the three countries has left people stranded in makeshift accommodation, at risk of diseases like cholera and in some cases unable to access roads.

“Tens of thousands of people are still homeless, with some living in UN provided shelters, and others in makeshift structures, unable to access basic sanitation, and at risk of cholera and other opportunistic diseases.

“Children are out of school and healthcare facilities are yet to be fully rebuilt. Given the dire situation in the countries and the responsibilities for the climate crisis, wealthier states and multilateral donors need to pledge more than they have done and ensure money reaches those who need it,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East and Southern Africa.

According to Amnesty, less than half of the $450 million USD needed for relief and recovery assistance to communities affected by the cyclone in Zimbabwe and Mozambique has been secured, with just over $40,000 committed in the first quarter of 2020.

Mozambique, the hardest hit of the three southern African nations, hosted a pledging conference in May 2019 to secure support for reconstruction and long-term resilience building. The conference raised $1.2-billion USD – less than a third of requirements.

Slow rebuilding efforts

Most schools which were damaged by the cyclone in Mozambique have not yet been rebuilt and hundreds of thousands of children have had their education interrupted.

Teachers are also struggling to provide pupils with a decent education due to lack of infrastructure and other materials.

One of the hardest hit areas in Mozambique was Sofala Province where Access to roads is still blocked, leaving people trapped in communal shelters and relying on humanitarian assistance from United Nations agencies and others.

In Beira, the provincial capital, there have been outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and malaria and thousands of people were infected.

Amnesty said the Mozambican authorities must build a fit for purpose healthcare infrastructure post the cyclone to better respond in future.

In Zimbabwe, the second hardest hit country, many affected people are still living in makeshift tents in camps set up by the UN Refugee Agency.

Amnesty has since called on states to states agree on an adequate international mechanism on loss and damage, with dedicated finances, to support the affected people.

“In the wake of this catastrophic natural disaster, it is clear that the governments of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe cannot afford to shoulder the cost of the loss and damage caused by cyclone Idai and undertake the massive reconstruction and rebuilding of people’s lives alone,” said Tigere Chagutah.

Cyclone Idai hit Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique between 14 and 16 March 2019. The cyclone, which was one of the southern hemisphere’s worst ever natural disasters, killed more than 1,000 people and left 3 million more without food, water, shelter and critical infrastructure.