Aid groups make plea for help for Mozambique disaster response

Tropical Cyclone Dineo in the Mozambique Channel on Feb. 15. (Credit: NASA)

More humanitarian assistance is needed in Mozambique nearly a month after a cyclone struck the south African country. A joint call by four aid groups urges donors to meet the U.N.’s $10.2 million funding request to support more than 150,000 people in Mozambique affected by Cyclone Dineo.

“The main needs right now are shelter, livelihoods, health and education,” CARE Mozambique Country Director Marc Nosbach said in a statement. “We need to provide as much support as we can so affected communities can get on with their lives. … Resources are stretched by prolonged drought, El Niño and now, Cyclone Dineo. Investing in the response now is an investment in resilience for the future.”

Dineo made landfall on Feb. 15. The storm’s intensity reached the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane. It destroyed an estimated 33,700 homes and damaged an additional 71,000. Hundreds of health clinics, schools and government offices were also damaged.

The cyclone arrived as the country deals with the worst drought in 35 years. Crops are doing poorly, increasing levels of food insecurity. More than 2 million people face crisis levels of insecurity now, thanks to the drought and the flooding caused by the cyclone. Donations from the European Union and U.K. in January assisted the World Food Program reach more people.

However, current food assistance covers only 900,000 people. It leaves more than half of all people in need of aid without support and that does not include the people affected by the cyclone. Aid groups tried to bring attention to the problem at the beginning of the year.

“We have warned for months that this food crisis deteriorates by the day. We are now approaching the peak of hunger, but international funding still doesn’t match the enormous needs,” Michelle Carter, CARE’s deputy regional director for southern Africa, said in a January statement.

Now they are trying to get more attention and funding for the country. Concern Worldwide, Oxfam, Save the Children and CARE hope the international community will provide support. Mozambique is significantly affected by natural disasters and climate change. Hundreds of people died from flooding in 2000 and 2001. Cyclone Funso in 2012 developed to hurricane strength and killed at least 25 people.

Aid groups are concerned that inadequate assistance now will make it harder for people to recover ahead of the next natural disaster.

“People are already exceptionally vulnerable after two years of prolonged drought, food shortages and loss of livelihoods,” Jamie LeSueur, disaster management coordinator for the International Federation of Red Cross, said in a statement. “The impacts of a new disaster like this one may further erode their capacity to cope and rebound, and that’s a serious concern.”

A consortium of humanitarian NGOs are working with the government of Mozambique to provide assistance. They are distributing emergency kits, chlorine tablets for clean drinking water and filling gaps such as maternal health care.

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Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]humanosphere.org.