Christian Aid is appealing for donations as it assists communities affected by Cyclone Idai, which has killed hundreds and devastated communities across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
The charity is providing emergency assistance to communities affected by the cyclone but it also wants to build resilience to help them be better prepared for when the next big storm strikes.
Over a million people have been affected by severe flooding and power outages triggered by the cyclone, which Clare Nullis, of the UN’s weather agency, said was “shaping up to be one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit the southern hemisphere”.
The President of Mozambique Filipe Nyusi said the death toll in his country alone could exceed 1,000.
While the full impact of Idai is not yet known, Christian Aid also expects large-scale damage to road networks, water and sanitation infrastructure, telecommunications, schools and health facilities.
One of the immediate dangers is water-borne diseases, but people will also need help in rebuilding their homes and livelihoods.
For farmers, the impact has also been devastating, with fields under water and recently planted crops decimated.
In some areas, like Nsanje in Malawi, the cyclone has only compounded already “dire” food shortages, Christian Aid said.
It is working with partners in Malawi and Zimbabwe to provide food, shelter, clothing, water, healthcare, sanitation, hygiene and psycho-social support services.
However, Nicholas Shamano, Christian Aid’s country director for Zimbabwe, said the charity was also taking a long-term approach to its response.
“The situation is already dire. Lives, livelihoods, infrastructure and property have been lost,” he said.
“The priority now must be on addressing the immediate needs of the affected communities. But we also need to focus on addressing the effects of natural disasters and improve disaster preparedness for communities at risk to ensure resilience to extreme weather systems.”
World Help, which also has partners on the ground responding, asked Christians to pray for those affected.
“People are terrified. They’re wondering if their lives will ever be the same. Please stop whatever you’re doing and pray on behalf of families impacted by this cyclone,” said Vernon Brewer, founder and CEO of World Help.
“Yes, we must provide help so they may survive this disaster, but we also must send them hope through our prayers so they know they are not forgotten and they still have a future.”