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Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe

Cyclone Idai has caused widespread flooding, landslides and destruction and left communities in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in urgent need of life-saving humanitarian assistance.

Here are five things you need to know about Cyclone Idai right now:

A man looks at a washed away bridge along Umvumvu river following Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe. March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

1. The full impact has taken a while to hit the news

Communications and infrastructure were very badly affected, making it hard to see the sheer scale of the disaster and level of devastation caused at first.

Cyclone Idai hit landfall on the night of 14-15 March causing extensive damage in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique with homes and agricultural land completely wiped out in some areas.

2. It could become one of the "worst weather-related disasters to ever hit the southern hemisphere"

The exact impact is not yet known and the numbers continue to rise but millions of people have been affected by what the UN’s weather agency is suggesting could be “one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit the southern hemisphere.”

More than a thousand people are feared to have died, thousands more are missing and millions of people have been left destitute without food or basic services.

A family dig for their son who got buried in the mud when Cyclone Idai struck. Photo taken in Chimanimani about 600 kilometres south east of Harare, Zimbabwe, Tuesday, March, 19, 2019. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP/REX

3. It's a race against time

Oxfam teams and local partner organisations are already on the ground in all three countries and will be responding with clean water, toilet facilities, shelter, clothing, food and other essential items. In some of the most challenging conditions imaginable, Oxfam is  working around the clock to make sure this vital work happens as quickly and effectively as possible. It is a race against time, you can donate to help us save lives right now

4. We're working with the Disasters Emergency Committee

Oxfam has joined together with other humanitarian aid agencies around the world as part of the UK's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).Oxfam is a founder member of the group, which also includes Action Aid, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision. This will increase the impact of the work that all 13 charities are doing.

5. A longer-term response will take some time to evaluate

With an estimated 2.6 million people affected across the region, Oxfam aims to reach up to 500,000 initially – hopefully more – across the three countriesincluding in partnership with other international and local NGO partners. In Mozambique, where 2.1 million people are affected, Oxfam is planning to reach people through COSACA (a consortium of Oxfam, Care and Save the Children) as part of a programme to restore several basic social services including access to healthcare, education and water. In Malawi, Oxfam is looking to help 200, 000 people and in Zimbabwe 50,000 people.

More about Oxfam's response...

Staff and local partners are working in some of the most challenging conditions imaginable, with many areas only accessible by helicopter. But help is getting through and we aim to reach over half a million people.

In Mozambique, we’ve already provided 2,500 people with kits including blankets and sleeping mats, mosquito nets to protect from malaria, buckets for storing water, and canvas and ropes to build shelters. We will also be using mobile water treatment plants to provide clean water and emergency toilets on a huge scale.

In Malawi, where thousands of people were already struggling with drought and poor crops, more than 700,000 have been affected by the cyclone. We’re planning to provide buckets and soap to protect from deadly disease, and preparing to deliver clean, safe water, emergency toilets and cash grants so people can buy food.

In Zimbabwe, 250,000 people have been affected by floods. We’re beginning to provide humanitarian assistance in Chimanimani, one of the worst affected areas. Together with the other DEC members we’re doing everything we can to make sure we get people what they need. If you’ve already donated, thank you so much. But we still urgently need more help.

You can help save lives by donating to Oxfam’s Cyclone Idai appeal now.

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