Oxfam will begin distributing lifesaving aid including water purification tablets and hygiene kits to some of the communities worst affected by Cyclone Idai over this weekend.
Hundreds of thousands of survivors in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are in danger from waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea.
Cyclone Idai had caused extensive damage to water supply and sanitation infrastructure. Many people are having to drink contaminated water. Urgent action is needed to prevent the outbreak of diseases such as cholera and acute diarrhoea.
Speaking from Mozambique, Oxfam aid worker Takaindisa Sanangurai said: “We have seen an increase of people with diarrhoea already, especially in Beira, because raw sewage is flowing into water sources. Ninety percent of Beira is still under water and it is difficult to contain the problem.”
Oxfam plans to distribute water purification tablets, hygiene kits and blankets to communities in Beira, and also to those in the Chipinge and Chimanimai districts of Zimbabwe. In Malawi, Oxfam is working in Nsanje Bangula camp where displaced people have been gathering.
The overall humanitarian response is being severely hampered by continuing heavy rain, floodwaters, and because roads, bridges, and communications have been damaged or destroyed entirely.
Tariro Mavi, Oxfam’s Regional Water, Sanitation and Health Expert said: “I have met people whose lives have been turned upside down. They are now struggling to meet their most basic needs. As well as our aid distributions, we will also run hygiene promotion sessions to advise people how to store and treat water. We’ll help to ensure that people who have had to take refuge in transit camps can access adequate toilet and washing facilities.”
Elizabeth Banda (38) from Chichewa – one of the worst affected areas in Malawi told Oxfam: “If things do not change we shall all perish. No one will be left behind.”
Oxfam has initial plans to reach up to half a million people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe including via its partnerships with local and other international organisations. Over the next three months Oxfam and partners will truck in clean water and distribute water treatment and hygiene kits that contain items such as buckets, soaps, jerry cans and menstrual hygiene kits.
Photo: Sergio Zimba / Oxfam Novib