Cyclone Idai one month on: thousands in Mozambique still cut off from any help and struggling to survive

Published: 12th April 2019

Areas hit by Cyclone Idai are “like a war zone” says Oxfam. The destruction and suffering are still not fully mapped. Despite initial appeals, international aid effort are still grossly underfunded, and aid agencies are already stretched and running out of resources.

One month on from devastating Cyclone Idai, Oxfam and its local partner organizations in Mozambique are still finding thousands of isolated people cut off from any aid or rescue.

Only a few days ago, as part of the COSACA consortium and in partnership with local organization CECOHAS, Oxfam embarked on a 24-hour journey via car, motorbike and canoe into isolated communities in Zambézia, the province North of Beira. The team found some 2,000 people in Gentivo in desperate need, with an estimated 4,000 more remaining without access. Up to that point, the community had had no contact with outside help and were surviving off dates, coconuts and a few small fish they could catch.

Dorothy Sang, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Advocacy Manager, said that Oxfam and other international agencies are now planning an air drop of life saving supplies into Gentivo.

“The tragedy is that Gentivo is not an anomaly,” said Sang. “We know there are many more people still out there cut off from help. The further we spread into hard-to-reach areas, the more people in need we are going to find. These are areas that have not necessarily been hit hardest by the disaster, but the people are already living in chronic poverty and now face huge challenges to survive. They risk becoming utterly forgotten.”

Oxfam and its local partners in Mozambique have so far reached over 50,000 people with clean water, emergency supplies and public health activities to help stop the spread of cholera. There have been more than 4000 recorded cases of cholera to date. But with an estimated 1.85m people affected, many of whom are still stranded and isolated, and a lack of international funding, Oxfam is concerned that thousands may not receive the emergency help they need.

“People have given money so generously in many countries to enable Oxfam and other agencies to act quickly to help”, said Sang. “However, a month in, we are still realising the full shocking extent of this disaster. Some places look like a war zone. We are still finding survivors in desperate need. Humanitarian resources are already running out. Aid agencies need to be adequately resourced to respond to what is becoming an overwhelming crisis. The international funding appeal is $282m, but governments have only pledged $60m so far. If more is not made available soon, thousands of people may be forgotten.”

Marcos Paulo do Amaral from CECOHAS, which has worked with Oxfam since 2013, said: “In Zambézia region we still have many communities without access to humanitarian aid, completely isolated and left behind. They need virtually everything – food, water, shelter, sanitation and hygiene systems, and health care.”

Sang said: “The scandal and the tragedy – as ever – is that poor communities are suffering most. The international community needs to stand in solidarity with those affected and get funding to organisations on the ground right now, including local organisations who are well positioned to reach people we know are feeling utterly abandoned. This humanitarian response must not be allowed to unravel for lack of support.”

Notes to editors

  • Oxfam spokespeople are available in Mozambique.
  • Oxfam has launched public appeals in 17 countries, where the public has generously donated money for the Idai response. In the UK alone, the Disasters and Emergency Committee (DEC) raised £29m for Cyclone Idai. DEC brings together a unique alliance of 14 UK’s leading aid agencies and broadcasters to maximise fundraising and quickly deliver effective emergency relief.

Contact information

Please contact Dorothy Sang for interviews: +258869254700 or Skype: dorothy.sang

For updates, please follow @Oxfam.