CARE commences aid distribution as Cyclone Idai crisis is declared regional crisis across Southern Africa

"all signs show that it’s a crisis with long-term repercussions"

MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE – CARE International staff have today begun distributing shelter and sanitation kits to communities affected by the destructive Cyclone Idai in Malawi and Mozambique.

The aid agency’s experts are continuing to assess and monitor the scale of the devastation as rescue workers are racing against time to save hundreds of people who are still clinging onto roofs and trees.

This afternoon (Friday 22 March 2018), CARE declared Cyclone Idai a “regional disaster” as experts described the storm as one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to strike the Southern Hemisphere.

Caroline Kende-Robb, secretary general of CARE International, said: “We have declared Idai a regional disaster because all signs show that it’s a crisis with long-term repercussions.

“In the immediate instance, our teams are responding with relief aid on the ground. We are receiving frequent updates that roads are impassable and communication networks across all three affected countries (Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe) have been cut off. In some contexts, there are no sanitation structures to talk of with latrines and sewage systems washed away and destroyed.

“Crucially, some crops that were nearing harvest have now been completely destroyed by the resultant floods. As CARE, we are looking at both the short-term and the long-term scenarios: people will need decent sanitation facilities now to avert a major disease outbreak; while planning is in motion to cater for their food security in the months to come."

The aid agency today distributed thousands of water containers and packages of plastic roofing sheets for evacuees of the crisis in Malawi.

CARE experts have also established 21 protection committees in camps to ensure women and girls are protected from abuse.

“Following a natural disaster like Cyclone Idai, women and girls are particularly vulnerable. Informal camps are set up, often in schools and churches. Families are often separated, with men, women and children occupying different buildings. These buildings tend to be overcrowded with poor lighting,” CARE spokesperson, Jessica Swart said.

“Our committees are made up of 10 people, each with at least 50 percent representation from women. They have an important role in disseminating messages on protection against sexual exploitation and abuse; and gender-based violence,” she explained.

In Mozambique, CARE and its partners today airlifted family-sized tents, buckets and emergency kits. These kits – including blankets, mosquito nets and other supplies - were delivered to areas that are inaccessible by road, including parts of Beira and in nearby Guara Guara.

CARE assessment teams report that food and clean water remain critical needs, however, and families with children are struggling the most.

Cyclone Idai swept across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, leaving behind a trail of destruction, killing hundreds and affecting an estimated 2.6 million people. The full scale of the disaster is still unfolding, and more heavy rain is forecast.

Canadians can donate to support CARE's emergency response efforts. Visit: care.ca/idai

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CARE has spokespeople available in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Contact:

Darcy Knoll
Communications Specialist | CARE Canada
darcy.knoll@care.ca | 613-228-5641

For media requests earlier than 6:30am EDT, contact:

HeHenry Makiwa, Senior Humanitarian Communications Coordinator, CARE International
makiwa@careinternational.org

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