International Medical Corps has deployed a team of response experts to help those affected by the devastating cyclone that battered southeastern Africa on March 14 and 15. The United National Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that nearly 3 million people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have been affected by Cyclone Idai’s torrential rains, destructive winds and deadly flooding. Though the death toll will likely continue to rise as additional information is gathered, hundreds of people have died, thousands are missing and many more have been displaced from their homes.
Cyclone Idai washed out roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure in its path, while high winds damaged or destroyed countless homes and buildings—including health centers and hospitals. The effects of the disaster on crops and livelihoods will be felt for months to come. Power networks are down and are unlikely to be restored for some time. Rain continues to fall, and with every passing hour, the needs are increasing. Though waters are beginning to recede in some areas, flood conditions still exist in others, restricting access by aid providers to information—and by local populations to much-need supplies, including food, clean water and healthcare.
As information comes in from affected areas, International Medical Corps is on the ground. Leveraging our long-standing presence in Zimbabwe as a response platform, we have deployed experts to affected areas in the region to quickly expand support for health, medical and other needs, and are working with partners, government ministries and international agencies to build and expand response efforts. The primary needs appear to be water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, including a need for hygiene kits and access to clean water; healthcare, including access to medicines, and treatment and prevention of acute watery diarrhea; shelter for the displaced; nutrition; and protection for women and children.