Tropical cyclone Idai caused death and destruction in Mozambique in March 2019. 1.8 million people were suddenly dependent on humanitarian aid. Johanniter sent an emergency team to help in Mozambique.
Cyclone Idai was one of the most devastating cyclones in the southern hemisphere since reliable weather observations had began. The storm caused more than 600 deaths and thousands of injuries in Mozambique alone. Infrastructure and harvests were destroyed in large parts of the country. "For weeks, the water was meters high in the flat regions. Harvest ripe maize rotted and many people had no stocks," reported Linda Zimmermann, who initiated Johanniter International Assistance´s projects on site.
Access to sufficient food was particularly at risk, as harvests on around 6000 square kilometres were destroyed. One month after the cyclone, Johanniter and the local organisation Kubatsirana began distributing seeds, tools, mosquito nets and hygiene articles to 500 families in the Gondola district. "We must quickly put the families back in a position to grow their own food and recover from the destruction," said Zimmermann.
It is hardly possible for people to cope with this on their own: Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world. Every ninth adult is infected with HIV and many children grow up without a parent, which further increases poverty. After 16 years of civil war, a ceasefire was negotiated in the 1990s, but political and religious tensions continue, some of which lead to open violence. In addition to health care, the drinking water supply is also inadequate and has deteriorated in the affected areas due to the storms Idai and Kenneth. For this reason, Johanniter and local organisations started further relief activities in the areas of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). In addition, mobile health teams stabilise the health care system.
"I don't have much left to eat for my children and myself. And also new seeds for planting are missing", says Lidia Waene. She lives alone with her five children in the district of Gondola, which was badly hit by Idai. Her small house was badly damaged, the hut with the supplies no longer had a roof. Days of rain made their supplies unusable. Only a goat and a few chickens survived the tropical storm. (Photo ©Johanniter/Flurschütz)
The remaining water for weeks after Cyclone Idai favoured the outbreak of diseases such as malaria and cholera. Destroyed health posts did not provide comprehensive treatment for the population. The Mozambican government therefore requested international support and Johanniter sent an emergency medical team (EMT). From 5 April, a total of 23 emergency aid volunteers including doctors, paramedics and logisticians, took over basic medical care for about 17,000 residents in the remote Buzi district.
Every day, mobile teams treated around 50 patients, mainly for malaria, respiratory diseases and diarrhoea. Additional medical supplies ensured the treatment of 10,000 patients for three months as well as the treatment of cholera and malaria. In addition, 22 mobile water filters were distributed to prevent the spread of diseases such as cholera, which infected thousands of people after Idai. Johanniter's EMT was able to treat a total of 842 patients.