Fears are growing for more than 100,000 children and adults whose lives are at risk in cyclone-hit Mozambique as rivers in the worst affected areas burst their banks inundating large swathes of land, Save the Children said today.
Flooding from earlier this month has been exacerbated by cyclone Idai, which slammed into northern Mozambique on 15 March 2019, leaving a trail of destroyed homes, schools, hospitals and infrastructure. Torrential rain is still lashing the region.
According to the Government of Mozambique, 600,000 people have been affected, more than 1,000 people may have lost their lives and 100,000 need to be urgently rescued near Beira.
Aerial assessments in Sofala province, in the centre of the country, show that an area more than 50km wide has been completely submerged. They also show that Buzi town, which is estimated to be home to more than 2,500 children*, could be under water within 24 hours.
"The scale of this disaster is growing by the minute and Save the Children has grave concerns about children and their families still at risk as flood waters continue to rise," said Machiel Pouw, Save the Children's response leader in Mozambique.
"The assessment emerging from Mozambique today is chilling. Thousands of children lived in areas completely engulfed by water. In many places, no roofs or tree tops are even visible above the floods. In other areas, people are clinging to rooftops desperately waiting to be rescued.
"Right now, it is a race against the clock to save children's lives. This is especially true in Buzi, where we may have less than 24 hours to get people out. We support the Government of Mozambique's call for more assistance for urgent rescue efforts."
As well as scaling up the rescue effort, Mr Pouw said people displaced by the floods and those who are living without water, food, shelter and healthcare need urgent assistance.
Save the Children is a member of the COSACA consortium with Oxfam and CARE and is working in close coordination with the government and the National Institute of Disaster Management to support children impacted by the disaster.
"Three trucks carrying COSACA's relief items are already on their way to Beira, one of the cities that took the full force of the cyclone," Mr Pouw said. "And a cargo plane carrying 51 tons of supplies such as buckets, tarpaulins, jerry cans and multi-purpose tents is expected to arrive in Maputo tomorrow.
"We also have Save the Children's Emergency Health Unit supporting the COSACA response on the ground to assess the damage to health facilities, prevent disease outbreaks and ensure children have access to the healthcare they need to survive."
Notes to editors:
Save the Children is a member of the COSACA consortium with Oxfam and CARE. The consortium aims to re-establish access to services through the repair and reconstruction of partially destroyed schools and healthcare centres, improve access to clean water, and promote good hygiene practices and to prevent disease outbreak.
Save the Children stands side by side with children in the toughest places to be a child. We do whatever it takes to make sure they survive, get protection when they're in danger, and have the chance to learn. Together, we fight for children every single day. Because every child should be able to make their mark on their world, and help to build a better future.
When a disaster strikes, our Emergency Fund allows us to respond wherever the need is greatest. It means we can be on the ground within hours of a disaster striking, so we can start to help save and rebuild lives immediately.
* The population of Buzi was estimated to be 5,000 in the most recent census. Of these, more than half will be children.