Cyclone Idai: CARE’s relief kits address fears of disease outbreak
MAPUTO (March 27, 2019) – CARE’s aid distributions in communities worst affected by Cyclone Idai are aimed at stemming the onset of a "second disaster" as experts warn of a cholera outbreak in Mozambique.
The distribution of relief items has commenced in earnest in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, with CARE focusing on providing sanitation, shelter and hygiene kits.
CARE spokesperson Jennifer Bose said the aid agency's emergency responders are racing around the clock to help contain the outbreak of deadly diseases such as cholera and malaria. Speaking from Beira, Mozambique, she said:
We have put together packages that address the very needs of the affected at this stage of the crisis: family tents, hygiene kits, shelter kits and water tanks.
These kits have soap and water purification tablets, that are necessary to stem the outbreak and spread of diarrhea and cholera. We also offer mosquito nets as we are expecting a spike in malaria cases due to the large amounts standing water.
While our intentions and strategy are well-founded, we are facing tremendous logistical challenges in bringing our staff and the relief aid to support the victims. There is water everywhere, so we are depending on helicopters and boats. This is not only complicated but is also extremely expensive.
There are fears of a "second disaster" across the region after reports of cholera cases in Mozambique appeared in the media today (27 March 2019).
Almost 3 million people have been affected by Idai in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi; with many of the displaced forced to seek shelter in camps where there is little or no clear water and sanitation.
Mwangitama Chavula, CARE's maternal child health and nutrition coordinator, said:
People are living in tent camps, schools, churches, on roadsides and other impromptu places on higher ground. We are even seeing pregnant women sleeping in open spaces; and that of course raises health concerns.
In one area in Nsanje (southern Malawi), the hospital has been completely submerged by flood waters, and has closed for at least two weeks. Vaccines and medications have been destroyed, and pregnant women’s health books and case notes have also been destroyed so there’s no information about their pregnancies or their medicinal prescriptions.
We are working with these communities to keep women and girls healthy and safe. We are also raising awareness about violence against women and providing mothers with the training and skills they need to deal with disaster.
According to CARE experts, when disaster strikes, women and girls often suffer most. In unlit and unprotected settlements, they may be at risk for harassment or rape and abuse.
Mary, a single mother in one of the evacuation settlements in Nsanje, Malawi, says life in the camp has been difficult. She says many young men have been hounding her for sexual favours in exchange for food. She says the advances have been increasing every day and now she fears that she may become a target of sexual abuse:
I am always afraid to go to sleep. Our tents don’t have doors so it’s easy for someone to just slip in and abuse you.
In response, CARE has established protection committees to help women shield themselves and report abuse. Hodges Zakariya, Gender and Protection Officer for CARE in Nsanje, says:
CARE takes seriously issues of protection especially in such an emergency where women and girls are vulnerable. We are working with the social welfare department and other agencies to make sure that every activity must have a session on raising awareness on gender-based violence.
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