Oxfam has distributed emergency supplies to survivors of Cyclone Idai in Nsanje district, one of the worst hit areas in the southern tip of Malawi, and in camps in Buzi near the city of Beira in Mozambique today.
In Mozambique, 470 family kits were distributed through Oxfam’s partner organization, AJOAGO, in displacement camps in Estaquinha and Guara Guara in the district of Buzi – an area currently accessible only by boats or helicopter, and still without functional communication systems. Each family kit includes 2 blankets, a 10 litre bucket, 2 mosquito nets, 1 jerry can, 8 spoons and 2 cloth wrappers and water purification tablets.
In Malawi, 1,000 families in Bangula camp in Nsanje District received hygiene kits containing essential items such as buckets, soap, laundry soap and sanitary pads. Many of the people living in the camp travelled in canoes across the flood waters to reach safety.
Bangula camp is currently home to 5,000 displaced children, women and men from both Malawi and Mozambique, but they have been paying to use a nearby borehole for drinking water. With only a few toilets and limited access to clean water, people in the camp are particularly vulnerable to diseases such as acute diarrhea and cholera.
Zainabu Elasoni, a resident of Bangula camp, said: “Hygiene conditions here in the camp are not very good and I do fear for my baby – but I have no choice. I lost all my household items when my house collapsed in the floods. Oxfam’s help comes just at the right time, I’ll be using one bucket for bathing my baby and another for storing drinking water.”
Malita Mishoni is another resident in the camp: “We really needed soap here. We lost everything in the flood, but today marks a new beginning for us, thanks to Oxfam’s support. I have a baby and two other daughters and these buckets and soap will make it a bit easier to take care of my children.”
Cyclone Idai has devastated the lives of more than 2.6 million people across southern Africa including about 700,000 people in Malawi where heavy rains, which began on 6th March, have caused massive flooding across the southern part of the country destroying people’s houses and washing away their livestock and crops.
“We are seeing huge sanitation needs at the camp and the few toilets that have been dug at the camp are very shallow and some are already full because the area is still waterlogged,” says Joseph Moyo, Oxfam Humanitarian worker. “With cholera cases already being reported in Mozambique, we are prioritizing the distribution of hygiene kits to the survivors at the camp as an important intervention to prevent such an outbreak here.”
“The conditions and safety of women here at the camp are our paramount concern. Women and girls are more vulnerable here because of the distress this crisis has caused, and more needs to be done to heighten personal security and the protection of women and other vulnerable groups. In the coming days, we will be holding sensitization meetings with the women and girls, men and community members and their leaders on safeguarding issues. We also need more tents to ensure women and girls can have their living areas separated from the men,” says Tariro Mavingo, Oxfam humanitarian worker.
Oxfam will distribute additional aid to Bangula camp in the coming days including food such as maize flour, beans and cooking oil, as well as providing information and advice on how to prevent the spread of disease.
The overall humanitarian response is being severely hampered by continuing heavy rain, floodwaters, and because roads, bridges, and communications have been damaged or entirely destroyed – meaning many areas are only accessible by boat or helicopter.
Oxfam has initial plans to reach up to half a million people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe including via its partnerships with local and other international organizations. Over the next three months Oxfam and partners will truck in clean water and distribute water treatment and hygiene kits that contain items such as buckets, soaps, jerry cans and menstrual hygiene kits.
John Makina, Oxfam in Malawi Country Director, said: “People have been left with nothing. They need help now and in the months and years ahead to rebuild their communities in a way, which equips them for a world where climate change means extreme weather events such as Idai happen more often. Idai is yet another deadly warning of the impact of unchecked climate change unless governments, particularly major emitters, cut emissions fast.”