camps by the roadside, Mozambique

Rebuilding lives after Cyclone Idai

It’s been a month since Cyclone Idai wreaked havoc across central Mozambique.

I visited Dombe in Manica, one of the most affected provinces, to get a closer look at how our hard-working teams are helping people rebuild their lives.

Travelling along the dirt roads the effects of Cyclone Idai are clear. As far as the eye can see the low-lying land has been covered by the floodwater in mud and debris. The crops are all destroyed and nothing can be salvaged, including important staples like maize.

But, along with other humanitarian organisations, we’re distributing food for the next few months, and we’re also providing seeds and tools within the narrow window for planting.

This should produce some food by October which will help restart the local economy. However, it’s a poor area and a lot more support is needed if everyone is to get enough to eat over the rest of the year.

Dotted along the roadside are camps where people have settled after they escaped the floodwaters that took homes, possessions and sometimes loved ones. It’s a forlorn sight. Families must still be in shock about what happened, and uncertain about the future.

In the meantime, we’ve provided tents and tarpaulins, and have been erecting latrines, to keep these families sheltered and safe.

camps by the roadside in Dombe, Manica
Camps by the roadside in Dombe, Manica

I also visited a school, and saw how their staff were hard at work to clear up the mess and get the school re-opened. A lot of people used the school as a shelter after the flood. Desks and other equipment are damaged and need replacing.

And then I heard a story that broke my heart.

Ten students drowned as floodwater engulfed their houses. Eventually their bodies were found, but a proper burial was not possible. I can only imagine how the staff and students are coping with this loss.

I was also told of another twelve children who were missing. But, incredibly, they were rescued!

The kids ended up in a different camp across the other side of the floodplain. Soon they will return to their families, who must have been worried sick for the past month. They’ll get home eventually – but with roads and bridges washed away, it might take time for them to return to their families safely.

At the next village I saw the life-saving work of our Emergency Health Unit (EHU)

They were operating two mobile clinics — providing medical consultations at a different place every day, returning again after a week for follow up.

The tent was packed with pregnant women and mums with newborns. Many queued to see the doctor. Some were diagnosed with malaria, respiratory tract infections and diarrhea. Serious cases were sent to the nearest hospital for treatment.

Without the EHU, they would have had to walk for miles to receive the assistance they urgently needed.

Save the Children's mobile clinic in action
Save the Children’s mobile clinic in action

I also saw one of our child-friendly spaces, which Save the Children sets up immediately after a disaster strikes. These spaces help children feel like life is getting back to normal, and offer them with protection and psychological support.

With schools yet to reopen, the space is busy and alive with the high energy you would find in any playground. Children of all age groups congregate. There’s a football match, a volleyball game, some skipping, and also learning activities inside the tent for pre-school age children.

Under the tree in the corner there’s a consultation underway with some of the older kids to get their views on what kind of facilities could be provided.

I am in awe of what our teams have accomplished in Dombe in just a little over a month. Although I’m concerned it would take a long time to rebuild not just homes and livelihoods but also lives from the devastation. A huge amount of support is needed in the year to come.

But my colleagues and I will continue to try to find the resources required and push hard to meet people’s immediate needs. And when communities begin to embark on the road to long-term recovery, we’ll remain at their service.

What you can do to help:

Thousands are at risk after Cyclone Kenneth struck Mozambique last week, six weeks after the destruction wrought by Cyclone Idai.

Donate to the Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth appeal 

Read more about the latest in Mozambique

Find out about our lifesaving Emergency Fund

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