Considered one of the most severe tropical cyclones to hit the Southern Hemisphere, Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall at the port city of Biera, Mozambique on Thursday 14th March. Winds were reported to have exceeded 177km/h (106mph), leaving a trail of devastation as it moved inland. In its wake, Idai devastated critical infrastructure in the provinces of Sofala, Zambezia, Manica and Tete, including electricity, communication and road networks.
Many of the severely affected areas are inaccessible, cut off by extensive flooding and destroyed or disrupted transport routes, leaving hundreds of thousands of cyclone victims isolated from emergency relief efforts. Many of these inaccessible areas are uncontactable, although where contact has been made it is reported food, water and supplies are coming to the end, with only a few days worth remaining.
We are currently working on establishing safe water projects in Manica Province with not-for-profit organisation Village Water, who are currently in Mozambique on the ground working tirelessly assisting with local relief efforts and ensuring their teams on the ground are safe. The official death roll is currently at 300, although it could rise to above 1,000, with 217 confirmed in Mozambique. There are a reported 15,000 people still in need of rescue, it is unknown how many amongst these are accounted for or missing. According to our local partners working the project area, in Chimoio town in Manica Province there are 1600 now homeless people camping in 3 schools as houses have been destroyed, whilst 2km outside of the town people remain stuck in trees as the rain continues and roads and bridges have been swept away. Dombe has been severely hit with virtually impossible road access and no communications, with 50 people reported dead already.
Access into rural communities remains incredibly difficult and our rehabilitation efforts are likely to be delayed. Yet, unfortunately, following this disaster an increasing number of people are now without access to safe water as fully working safe water sources have now been swept away.
More than ever, the provision of clean water in the disaster-stricken regions is vital. From standing flood water, high numbers of unrecovered causalities and pollution from destroyed infrastructure and vehicles, water-borne diseases will be rife and ground water supplies contaminated. Affected people are reported to be drinking unchlorinated well water due to the lack of safe, accessible options. The entire populations of affected areas are vulnerable within a disaster like this, although the young, pregnant and old are more susceptible to the associated risks, making the provision of safe water essential.
As extensive flooding continues, and more rain expected over the coming days, our thoughts are with those most affected, relief workers and members of society donating their time and energy to help the devastated regions. There is likely to be a long road ahead to recovery in Mozambique, and CO2balance are committed to continuing our efforts to provide safe water in Manica Province.