Cyclone Idai, one year on: How UKaid is saving lives

CARE has been supporting the recovery process since the beginning

“My only hope now is to see my children grow healthy and make enough money to support my family.”

Flora Jossias, aged 26, gave birth to twins in the hospital in Buzi – the only hospital in the whole state that suffered severely from Cyclone Idai. With funding from the UK government, CARE is rebuilding the hospital. A focus area is rebuilding the maternal waiting centre where women who are awaiting complicated births are referred. Here they wait until giving birth, as most have to travel several days to reach the hospital. About 100 births take place every month.

Women waiting at Buzi maternal health unit, Mozambique
Women at the maternal waiting centre at Buzi hospital

Flora told CARE:

I am from Bandua, which is about 2 hours away by car, but was transferred here because the health center did not have the medical means to carry out the delivery. I was only eight months pregnant when we moved here, it was a premature delivery. I have two more children, they are three years and six years old. Me and my mother, who came along, waited for two weeks for the birth of my twins.

Flora Jossias with one of her new-born twin babies
Flora with one of her new-born twin babies

We lived in a plastic tent outside the hospital, which is currently being restored after the cyclone. It is very hot here and it has been quite challenging. Right now is the rainy season and our biggest challenges back home are finding food and rebuilding our own house. We still have a field where we grow food and I sell coal to make a living.

Lucia Mavura, aged 34, is another mother benefiting from the improvements to Buzi hospital. She told CARE:

I have five children in total and am pregnant with my sixth. My home town is quite far from the only hospital in the whole district in Buzi. This is why I came here one week ago and am waiting to give birth. There is not much to do here, I’m basically just sitting and waiting all day to have my child.

Lucia Mavura at the maternal waiting centre at Buzi hospital
Lucia awaiting the birth of her sixth child

I had all of my children in the hospital here and the conditions now are better than right after the cyclone. The maternal waiting room is being repaired which means that we get to stay in rooms rather than plastic tents outside.

“My own home suffered a lot from the cyclone last year. It blew my roof away and when the floods came, I stayed in a tree with my children for four days until a boat came and brought us to a different part of Bandua which remained dry. I live there now with my children and my mother.”

My only wish right now is to give birth safely and soon, so I can go back home and return to my children.

CARE Protection Centre in Buzi

Women and girls affected by Cyclone Idai are still facing serious health risks due to lack of access to basic healthcare and protection services, as well as shortages of menstrual hygiene support. The situation is particularly difficult for girls attending school. CARE is working with community volunteers to raise awareness on issues such as gender-based violence and protection at schools and in the communities. CARE is establishing three women-friendly spaces in the district of Buzi as well as providing hygiene kits and appropriate latrine facilities for more than 57,000 women and girls. The kits include soaps, sanitary pads, water buckets and other items. CARE is also rehabilitating latrines at schools.

As is usual in a crisis, women have been disproportionately affected by Cyclone Idai. This ranged from having no provision for menstruating girls and no healthcare for pregnant and lactating mothers, to the risk of sexual exploitation and abuse (particularly towards young girls separated from their families), to transactional sex and child marriage.

Portrait of Katherine Bungo in Mozambique
Katherine Bungo is one of thousands still living in camps after Cyclone Idai destroyed their homes

Katherine Bungo, aged 43, told CARE:

We are all staying together in cramped camps ever since the cyclone destroyed most people’s homes, leading to increased sexual violence and our children growing up too quickly. My daughter is 15 years old. She used to be a normal teenager and used to go to school. But just recently she fell pregnant without me even knowing she was seeing anyone. We urgently need family planning and more awareness for both boys and girls in the camp so that unintended pregnancies can be avoided.

Marta Titoss and her daughter in Mozambique
Marta Titoss with her 9-month-old daughter

Marta Titoss told CARE:

“When the cyclone hit last year, it destroyed our house. It also took our cows, goats, chicken and farm from us. We only have a small piece of our farmland left where we grow maize, tomatoes, onion and other vegetables. I now live in Bandua camp with my parents, sisters and two children. I leave at 4 am every morning [to get to the farm] and it takes me about three hours to get there. I depend on the harvest and the aid we receive from organisations. My husband lives in South Africa and works as a mechanic in order to support us.”

The youngest one is 9 months old and was born just before the cyclone hit. I was very scared to lose her because she was just a few days old and I only had one blanket to protect her when we were forced to flee. After the storm, water had started entering our home when my father told us to leave and find shelter. I was scared my children would fall into the water and drown, the water was so high.

“All we could bring with us is a few clothes. My father had stayed in our house for four days, trying to save our home but it eventually got destroyed. He followed us to Bangua, where we moved because it’s higher above river level and the land was dry. We want to continue living here because the risk of floods is lower. Currently, we still live in a plastic tent but I am looking forward to building a house with the materials we received.”

How CARE is helping people recover from Cyclone Idai

CARE has assisted more than 300,000 people affected by the crisis with food assistance, access to water, and health, hygiene, education, and shelter support. In the aftermath of the cyclone, CARE built 360 temporary learning spaces, ensuring lessons continue for some 28,800 students. Additionally, CARE is repairing two severely damaged health centres and 130 classrooms. New classrooms and health centres are being built with resilient materials, ensuring they are better able to withstand future events.

CARE’s response to Cyclone Idai receives funds from the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.