As Oxfam leaders from across the world, attending our annual board meetings in Kenya, we send our solidarity to the people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi whose lives have been devastated by cyclone Idai. Our hearts go out to the families of those who have perished, and the more than 2.6 million people who have been robbed of precious livelihoods, homes and lands. Many of these people were already struggling to make ends meet and living in communities with fragile infrastructures such as roads, water and power.
These floods are a sign of things to come. Climate change is a reality that we must all rise to confront and we must focus on building the capacity of the most vulnerable people so they can withstand its effects. That is why we work with others across the world to ensure that the most vulnerable communities – who have contributed least to the climate crisis – are not forced to bear the heaviest burden.
Oxfam teams are currently on the ground in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, working with other agencies to assess the extent of the damage and deliver life-saving support. The road to recovery for these communities will be a long one. Oxfam will walk alongside them in their journey. We commend the agencies and governments who assisted with rescue efforts. We must all redouble our efforts now to save and support people.
While the scale of this disaster is extreme, flooding and disasters in these parts of Southern Africa is the norm, not the exception. Yet the state of disaster preparedness has not improved over the years, and people’s lives continue to be lost and imperiled needlessly. We all need to do better, particularly governments.
This tragedy calls us to take bold action on climate change and disaster preparedness. The priorities of our governments must change to focus more on the resilience of their nations, and especially of poor women and children who are the most vulnerable. The lives and suffering of people affected by cyclone Idai must not be in vain.
Oxfam Executive Board, 2019