At least 1.6 million children need urgent assistance – in healthcare, nutrition, protection, education, water and sanitation – one month after Cyclone Idai devastated parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, UNICEF said. Any prolonged interruption in access to essential services could lead to disease outbreaks and spikes in malnutrition, to which children are especially vulnerable.
The needs in Mozambique remain massive, with 1 million children in need of assistance, followed by more than 443,000 in Malawi and 130,000 in Zimbabwe.
Mozambique has already seen cases of cholera and malaria surge to 4,600 and 7,500 respectively since the cyclone hit.
UNICEF is particularly worried about access to services for the more 130,000 children who remain displaced following the cyclone, most of whom are in Mozambique and Malawi. More than 200,000 homes were destroyed by the storm in Mozambique alone.
“Children living in crowded shelters or away from their homes are at risk of diseases, exploitation and abuse,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, who visited Beira immediately after the cyclone hit. “The road to recovery will be long. It is imperative that humanitarian partners are there every step of the way. We need to help children and families survive and then get back on their feet.”
Across the three countries, flood waters have largely receded, and some affected families have started to return home. Yet thousands remain in evacuation camps because their houses were damaged or destroyed. Food security is also a major issue because the storm destroyed crops weeks before the harvest.
UNICEF and its partners continue to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs of children and families. UNICEF actions to date include:
- Mozambique: UNICEF provided vaccines to successfully immunize 900,000 people against cholera, has begun distribution of 500,000 mosquito nets to protect children from malaria, and helped restore the water supply for 500,000 people in the city of Beira. In the coming weeks, campaigns are planned around measles vaccination, deworming and vitamin A boosters. UNICEF is also supporting the establishment of several health clinics in resettlement areas.
- Malawi: UNICEF is providing water trucks, toilets and child friendly spaces for evacuation centres, as well as medicines and mobile clinics, education and recreation kits, volunteer teachers, and child friendly spaces in evacuation centres. Since the cyclone hit Malawi, UNICEF
has provided safe water to more than 53,000 people and toilets to over 51,000 people.
- Zimbabwe: UNICEF is distributing hygiene kits, rehabilitating water systems and restoring sanitation facilities; providing vital health and nutrition supplies; and working with partners to deliver psychosocial support to vulnerable children in child-friendly spaces. UNICEF has provided over 60,000 people with critical information to prevent waterborne diseases and, starting Monday 15 April, will launch a cholera vaccination campaign in partnership with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care and WHO, to protect over 480,000 people.
UNICEF has launched an appeal for US$122 million to support its humanitarian response for children and families affected by the storm and its aftermath, in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi over the next nine months.