Plan International scales up response to Cyclone Idai with hundreds of thousands in desperate need

Plan International has scaled up its response to Tropical Cyclone Idai across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, with hundreds of thousands in desperate need of assistance. 

The leading girls’ rights agency is supporting search and rescue operations and distributing essential household items in coordination with national governments, local partners and other humanitarian organisations. 

Over 350 people have died in the three countries, with Mozambique recording the highest death toll. 

The number of people affected by the disaster is also climbing. In Mozambique, some 260,000 children have been affected and at least 350,000 people are at risk from rising flood waters. In Malawi, close to a million people have been affected - nearly half are children.

Plan International’s Gerald Magashi is on the ground in Beira – the most severely affected city in Mozambique. He said: “The situation in Beira is dire. It looks like all the houses have been wiped out. There’s no power, there’s no fuel, even communication is really difficult. There are no roofs on houses, they have been blown away. People are sleeping outside.”

Plan International’s key priority is to ensure that anyone who is displaced has access to food, shelter, clothing and blankets to keep them warm in windy nighttime conditions. The organisation is also concerned about the impact of the disaster on children, particularly adolescent girls, who are uniquely vulnerable. 

Displaced girls living in shelters are especially at risk of gender-based violence. Across the three countries affected by Cyclone Idai, many people are sheltering in overcrowded schools, churches and public buildings with communal bathroom facilities, increasing their vulnerability to potential risks.

Stuart Katwikirize, Plan International’s Regional Head of Disaster Risk Management, said: “We are focusing on the needs of adolescent girls in our response. Our priority is to ensure their needs are met as much as possible, including providing protection and the distribution of dignity kits.”

The organisation is also concerned about the potential for malaria and waterborne diseases to spread due to the flooding, which would put people, especially the most vulnerable like young children, at risk.

Anne Hoff, Country Director for Plan International Mozambique, said: “Emergencies often cause already fragile water and sanitation systems to break down or become damaged. This puts people, especially the most vulnerable, such as the young, elderly or those with disabilities at risk. 

“Emergencies put girls and young women in particular in a very vulnerable situation. Also, lack of access to clean water increases the likelihood of an outbreak of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera.”

Plan International is distributing blankets, dignity kits and utensils to affected families, as well as mosquito nets and water purification tablets – which can be lifesaving.

Plan International Australia has launched an appeal to assist those impacted by the disaster. Those who wish to donate can do so by clicking here.

About Plan International 

Plan International is a leading girls’ rights agency. We work alongside children, young people, supporters and partners in more than 75 countries to tackle the root causes of injustices facing girls and the most marginalised children. We respond to emergencies to meet the needs of children and their families as quickly as possible, and we continue working with these communities afterwards to help them recover and rebuild their lives. We also work with children and their families to prepare for disasters, helping to reduce risks and save lives. 

Our local office, Plan International Australia funds programs supporting children in more than 25 countries, as well as sponsorship, emergency response and disaster risk reduction programs across the federation.