Aid workers are scrambling to help an estimated 175,000 people affected by Cyclone Eloise which ripped through the south of Mozambique recently, causing major devastation in the city of Beira and the surrounding Buzi district.
According to reports by aid agencies and local media, more than 8,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged in Sofala province, with many thousands housed in emergency accommodation centres.
Immediate concerns are for the provision of basic supplies such as food, water and hygiene facilities, as well as the associated risks of the spread of disease. In addition to water-borne diseases such as cholera, authorities are worried about the spread of COVID-19 in the cramped conditions of the emergency facilities.
Paul Dillon of the International Office for Migration (IOM) said: “Staff are distributing soap and a limited supply of cloth face masks to the most vulnerable. They are also providing information on the need to maintain physical distancing, but it is very difficult under the current circumstances."
Rotafina Donco, Country Director for Oxfam in Mozambique said: “We are dealing with a multifaceted humanitarian disaster that could spiral quickly out of hand if people don’t get urgent help”.
There are also concerns that severity of current flooding in Sofala province will intensify due to heavy rainfall already experienced in the region from mid-January, according to UNOCHA, as well as Storm Chalane, which hit the area less than a month ago.
UNICEF's Mozambique spokesperson said: “So many places are flooded already and it’s getting worse … Rivers are collecting water and bringing it back to the Buzi River basin.” (AFP)
On the ground, those affected are reporting losses not only of their homes but also of seeds, crops and tools, raising concerns that the immediate impact of the cyclone could be exacerbated by longer-term food shortages as families struggle to recover.
The region was already under enormous strain from the effects of Cyclone Idai, which killed more than 1,000 across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in 2019. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (UNOCHA) reports that more than half of the 71 resettlement centres sheltering people displaced by Cyclone Idai in 2020 are in areas also affected by Eloise.
Earlier this year, UNICEF launched an appeal for $52.8 Million USD to address the most urgent humanitarian crises across Mozambique.