Cyclone Idai: People are still in desperate need

People awaiting a CARE food distribution in Samona Machel village in Mozambique

One month after Cyclone Idai hit, people are still in desperate need of help.

Food to be distributed in Mozambique


In Samona Machel, a village in Beira, Mozambique, many of the more than 2,000 people living in the village were relying on the coming harvest to provide for their families – but Cyclone Idai and associated flooding just washed their crops away. Their fields are some of the more than 700,000 hectares of agricultural land that have been destroyed across the entire country, putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk of becoming food insecure.

On 10 April, CARE distributed tons of rice and beans as well as oil to more than 800 households in Samona Machel (photo above). Each family received a CARE package including five kilos of rice, five kilos of beans and two litres of oil worth around £30.

Woman and baby in Mozambique

Linda Bene Lewane (above), a mother of three children, said:

It has been too many nights going to bed with an empty stomach.

Woman with sack of rice in Mozambique

Maria Helena Jorge (above) used to make a living by selling bananas, oranges and homemade cakes at the market. She told us:

I don’t have any ingredients to makes cakes anymore and can’t earn money at the moment. But we are trying our best. Our roof has completely been taken off by the cyclone, but with the little money we have left we already started to rebuild it. I am really thankful for the food we got today, it will help us getting through the next couple of weeks.


I lost all of my belongings: my clothes, my goats, chicken, ducks and crops.

Portrait of Margarida Albino in Mozambique

When Cyclone Idai hit, Margarida Albino (above) lost everything. Floodwaters engulfed the grounds where her house once stood, in the village of Tica roughly 80 kilometres from the city of Beira. She says:

I used to harvest rice, bananas, sugar cane and other crops, but everything has been washed away. We have no stock and I have nothing left to feed my children.

Before the cyclone I produced enough rice for my family and was also able to start a small business selling my harvest. Now, we don’t know how to survive.

We urgently need seeds for replanting our crops. Now, there is still hope, but if we can’t get seeds there will be only hunger, especially affecting our children.

Small-holder farmers in Mozambique rely on their crops to provide for their families. Now, one month after the cyclone, many farmers are still waiting for the floodwaters to recede to be able to replant seeds.

CARE is aiming to distribute short and long cycle crops to help farmers replant their fields. Matthew Pickard, CARE International Regional Manager for Central and Southern Africa, says:

If we can get seed to families quickly they can take advantage of the residual moisture in the ground and they should be able to grow enough food to support their families throughout the year. If we miss this window of opportunity the consequences for these families would be catastrophic. We are therefore calling on the international community and other donors to dig deep and urgently find additional funds to support the life-saving response.


In Mozambique, almost 240,000 houses were severely damaged or completely destroyed. Anita Salomone, from Metuchira village, in Nhamatanda district near Beira, says:

The water came fast. It quickly reached the level of my neck. My children had to crawl on top of our dining table. We were waiting to be rescued by boats for hours. It was a nightmare.

Anita Salomone in Mozambique

The Government of Mozambique has assigned new plots of land to people whose homes were washed away. Now, families are in need of materials and tools to start building new houses. Anita (above) says:

At first I was afraid I would have to go back to my village where nothing is left. But now, thanks to the donation of materials from CARE, I will build a tent on my new land and start a new life step by step.

CARE is working with the Government of Mozambique and other aid agencies to assist communities by providing emergency household items such as tarpaulins, blankets, buckets and mosquito nets. In Nhamatanda, CARE donated 225 family tents to Anita’s community.

People carrying tent package in Mozambique
People carrying a tent during the distribution in Nhamatanda


14-year-old Diolinda Fabião stood outside and watched as Cyclone Idai’s furious winds ripped the roof off her house. She says:

Our roof was flying like a bird. I held my brother´s hand and we ran as fast as we could to a find a safe place to stay. We were very scared.

Portrait of Diolinda in Mozambique

Diolinda (above) is keen to return to school to resume her education but it’s difficult as classrooms are still being used as shelter for stranded villagers. In addition, over 3,000 classrooms have been destroyed, meaning the education of 330,000 students has been affected. Diolinda says:

I don’t know when I am going to start my lessons again. We were told to wait because our school is being used as a temporary shelter. My notebooks were swept away, and I have no books left to learn on my own in the meantime. I really miss my classmates and I want to go back to school.

Menstrual hygiene

“There are severe risks for around 650,000 menstruating women and girls whose hygiene is threatened by unsafe water and a cholera outbreak,” says Marc Nosbach, Country Director for CARE in Mozambique. He says:

We have seen young girls having no other option than washing their menstrual cloths in receding and most certainly contaminated flood water. No space to dry their laundry and therefore being forced to put on clammy clothes is adding even more risks for their health.

In Malawi, issues of women’s health are also in the spotlight. Mwangitama Chavula, CARE’s Maternal Child Health and Nutrition Coordinator, says there are no bathing, washing and drying spaces for women in most camps. She says:

CARE is supporting women with hygiene kits that include soaps, sanitary pads, water buckets and other items. However, the needs here are immense and so sexual and reproductive health needs, including access to family planning services are still unmet particularly for women.

In Zimbabwe, CARE Emergency Coordinator, Abel Whande, says:

We are particularly addressing the issue of the lack of segregation of latrines by gender, as well as the lack of bathing facilities. Women’s menstrual hygiene needs are largely unmet, though CARE has distributed dignity kits.


The Government of Mozambique is reporting an increase of cholera cases. Ninja Taprogge, CARE Emergency Communications Officer, says from Mozambique:

To prevent further harm, the government started a vaccination campaign in early April. Within a few days this campaign reached around 600,000 people. There are 11 cholera treatment centers where thousands of people currently receive medical aid. The good news is: cholera is treatable and hence curable – just as long as the infectious disease is detected and the patient gets hydrated as quickly as possible. The bad news is that until now not all people in the affected areas could be reached with vaccinations. Many of them simply do not know how to protect themselves from an infection.

Marc Nosbach, Country Director for CARE in Mozambique, says: 

CARE is working with other NGOS and the Mozambique Ministry of Health in setting up treatment centres and clinics, as well as helping to run a massive vaccination campaign. In addition to cholera, the extensive damage to health infrastructure and medical supplies still requires considerable effort to restore the functioning of the health system and ensure that people are able to receive basic, maternal and child care or for chronic diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis.

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