Cyclone Idai, which hit eastern Mozambique on March 14, was the worst natural disaster in southern Africa in the last two decades, reports the Brookings Institution. The cyclone destroyed approximately half of Mozambique’s annual crops and caused numerous deaths.
Moreover, the U.S. Department of Defense stated that the storm caused over 700 deaths with more than 1,500 injured. The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, which is from United States Africa Command, started humanitarian relief efforts in the region.
According to Al Jazeera, more than one million people in the country are at risk of a food crisis, as Cyclone Idai struck in a region that is critical for Mozambique’s food supply. The population of the central region of the country will not have the crops that were due for harvest in April and May. Instead, they will have to wait for floodwaters to recede.
In fact, the United Nations World Food Programme classified the crisis in Mozambique at its highest-level emergency, given that food insecurity was already a problem in the region even prior to the cyclone, says Vox. However, hunger is not the only concern in the region. As Guardian reports, cases of cholera were confirmed in Beira, a city that was hit hard by the cyclone. The city is striving to guarantee access to clean water and sanitation. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization shipped 900,000 doses of oral cholera vaccines for assistance.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies expressed concern for a potential cholera outbreak, says Reuters. An outbreak could easily worsen the humanitarian crisis, as the disease can kill within hours if people are not treated.
Other organizations are also providing assistance. For example, the Lutheran World Federation started efforts to secure clean water sources. The Federation estimates that even after two weeks, 600,000 people in Mozambique still need help and cannot return home.
In addition, the United Nations recognized and issued letters of recommendation for a South African medical and emergency workers team, says Times. The team honored by the UN is the Rescue SA, an organization that responses to disasters in South Africa and abroad. After the cyclone, it saved thousands of people that had to reallocate due to the disaster.
Even though some humanitarian aid arrived, road damage and floodwaters are impeding the arrival of humanitarian assistance, reports the Council on Foreign Relations. Nonetheless, the African Union sent $350,000 in aid and China dispatched doctors to battle the possibility of a cholera outbreak. However, only $40 million of the $300 million demanded for emergency United Nations funding is available.
Mozambique is especially susceptible to a cholera outbreak, as it is one of the poorest countries in the world, has slow growth rates, and lacks good healthcare infrastructure. In countries with similar conditions, such as Yemen, cholera cases rapidly become pandemics. Therefore, the Council believes that the best strategy to prevent future tragedies is if African governments and international organizations go further than crises response and start to construct long-term solutions to the problems.