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CEO’s Update: Cyclone Idai

Last Thursday 21st March, Save the Children worked with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to launch an appeal to help the millions of people affected by the devastating consequences of Cyclone Idai – over 1.8 million in Mozambique alone. Since then, the appeal has raised over £21 million – a fantastic response.

Children are especially vulnerable

When disasters like these strike, children are especially vulnerable. Many get separated from their parents. They also have weaker immune systems, making them more susceptible to disease outbreaks. The destruction of health facilities and disruption of health systems reinforces the vulnerability. Meanwhile, damage to schools and homes can make it incredibly difficult for families to recover and for children to rebuild their lives.

Our teams were among the first on the ground

I’m incredibly proud that our teams were among the first on the ground – and we have steadily scaled-up our presence. We have distributed emergency relief items to families who have lost their homes, including tents for shelter and buckets and jerry cans as means to purify water, in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Members of our Emergency Health Unit (EHU) were there before the cyclone hit and they are working to prevent disease outbreaks and provide access to healthcare. Protection has been another priority. We are building 20 child-friend spaces in Beira – Mozambique’s hardest-hit city – with at least 60 more planned for other areas hit by the cyclone and floods. We are setting up two mobile EHU teams on the ground to continue to bolster the work on disease prevention, support the provision of primary health care, and provide vaccinations.

The fact that those affected are scattered and displaced over a large flooded area is making it hard to reach people quickly. To speed up the effort, we are using a helicopter to reach the most in need. We have also set up a logistics hub on behalf of COSACA (a consortium we are leading comprised of Care, Oxfam and Concern Worldwide) and Mozambique’s National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) for interagency use to speed up and better coordinate our work. We continue to work closely with these partners and the Mozambique government to scale up our response.

Cyclone Idai is a reminder of the destructive power of nature and the fragility of the human condition. No country is immune to the risks that come with natural disasters. But in countries and communities where many people are living in extreme poverty, where health systems are poorly developed, and where underlying human development indicators in areas like malnutrition are poor, the risks are magnified. The people we are now working to reach will be rebuilding their lives for years. That’s why the bridge from humanitarian intervention to recovery and strengthened resilience through development is so critical.

Recognising our staff and supporters

I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our staff and colleagues on the ground who have worked so hard in such difficult circumstances to make a difference. Their efforts are helping save and rebuild lives. I also want to thank colleagues in the UK for a swift and decisive response made possible by our humanitarian, fundraising and marketing and media teams working together to deliver results. Lastly, I want to thank everyone who has donated to the DEC appeal. Your support has been instrumental to our response.

You can still donate to our Cyclone Idai appeal – those affected are in great need of continued support and resources.

Donate to Cyclone Idai appeal

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