Zimbabwe YMCA responds to Cyclone Idai

Cyclone Idai devastated large parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi when it made landfall in March 2019 in the city of Beira, Mozambique. One of the deadliest storms ever recorded to the hit the Southern Hemisphere, the cyclone caused catastrophic flooding, landslides and devastation across Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe YMCA and Y Care International 

Through our Emergency Fund, Y Care International coordinated efforts with our partner Zimbabwe YMCA on the ground to ensure that we were able to respond in the most effective way possible. Zimbabwe YMCA worked closely with government agencies, international NGOs and donors, and community members to coordinate response efforts and reach 17,193 survivors.

The Cyclone

On March 9 Cyclone Idai formed over the Northern Mozambique Channel and made landfall on March 15 near Beira, Mozambique, bringing torrential rains and winds that caused landslides, flooding, tidal surges and destruction to infrastructure affecting almost 3 million people in Southern Africa.

The path of devastation continued inland, where Cyclone Idai hit eastern Zimbabwe with more severe rains and wind. The districts of Chimanimani and Chipinge were some of the most seriously impacted in Zimbabwe. Despite huge access and logistical challenges, the YMCA worked diligently with other partners to assess the needs and deliver aid to those worst affected. Home to an estimated 12,500 to 15,000 people, Chimanimani district was only accessible via roads and bridges that were badly damaged by landslides or flooding.

Zimbabwe YMCA responds to the devastation

In coordination with local partners, the YMCA reached 17,193 people across the two affected districts of Chimanimani and Chipinge with clean water, sanitation services, food and emergency shelters.

Following a needs assessment and several inception meetings with both the provincial and district offices and other government departments, the YMCA have focused their efforts on

  • Training volunteers to prevent and stop the spread of deadly diseases through raising awareness and delivering key messages on water, sanitation and hygiene issues.
  • Providing psychosocial support to the survivors of Cyclone Idai
  • To offer educational support to affected students through uniforms and stationery
  • To educate the community on disaster risk management strategies

Communities were badly affected though the loss of property and livelihoods, but also the devastation of losing family members and friends who have perished. Many have relatives, friends or colleagues who have still not been found. Psychosocial support was provided to 2,560 survivors, with sessions conducted by the YMCA, Social Welfare and National AIDS Council.

A total of 2,820 people were reached through health and hygiene promotion information delivered by trained peer educators. 767 girl and women benefitted from reusable sanitary pads, often an overlooked area following an emergency.

Specialised support and protection for breastfeeding mothers is important, particularly during following an emergency or natural disaster when contaminated water and unsanitary environments can increase the risk of disease. The YMCA supported a total of 16 breast feeding women who received preparation materials and assistance and 6 pregnant women also received preparation sets.

National Programmes Coordinator from YMCA Zimbabwe, Francis Lembani said:

“The project was received well simply because of its unique nature that is responding to the needs of the affected and vulnerable community groups.”

A total of 112 students received disaster risk management training held in Chimanimani in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society on risk management, first aid, the importance of community disaster risk management committees and lifeskills training.

Future Plans

Four months on and the YMCA intend to follow up on the project beneficiaries and develop a longer-term project targeting young people who, as a result of the disaster, dropped out of secondary school to assist their families in earning an income.

In emergencies, Y Care International works through YMCAs on the ground and through the ACT Alliance – a global coalition of more than 140 church-affiliated organisations working together in 140 countries. We have been providing life-saving care to communities affected by emergencies across the world since we were founded in 1984.

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