Looming famine, logistical challenges hinder aid efforts in Mozambique following cyclone

Reuters
Mozambique Published: Apr 14, 2019, 03:54 PM(IST)

A motorcyclist rides through pools of water in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique. Photograph:( Reuters )

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On March 14, Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique, bringing devastation to the port city of Beira and surrounding areas.

Government and aid agencies are in a race against time in cyclone-hit Mozambique as looming famine and logistical challenges are threatening to make an already bad situation worse.

On March 14, Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique, bringing devastation to the port city of Beira and surrounding areas.

In the following days, the weather system swept through the central region, causing massive flooding and leaving entire communities submerged under 10 meters of water.

One of the worst-affected areas is Buzi in central Mozambique, where many residents are small-scale farmers who depend on their crops for sustenance.

Amelia Zinarimwe has been toiling away on this land for the last three decades. Before Cyclone Idai made its disastrous landfall and destroyed her home, she was getting ready to harvest her maize crop.

But before she could put hands on the crops, the flood came robbing months of hard work.

"I am suffering, I don't have any food or a place to sleep. Not even seedlings to replant," said Zinarimwe.

Right now, Zinarimwe is bending down, picking sweet potato leaves, the only thing she can afford to put on the dinner table.

"80 per cent of the people in this region are relying on these crops or fishery which have been basically wiped out," said Mathieu Leonard, a field coordinator with the Red Cross.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, food has been distributed from day one, so far-reaching one million people and more than 100,000 people have received emergency shelter.

But still, the aid is a race against time: not everyone in the affected areas in central Mozambique has received humanitarian assistance due to lack of access.

"There are a lot of challenges. Logistics is a very difficult issue. There are still many areas that can only be accessible by helicopter and not even a landing land.

So the roads are being cleared since the disaster happened, but there are still a lot of places that cannot really be accessible," said Leonard.

In places like Buzi, one of the worst-affected areas, aid has begun arriving. Thousands of local residents were evacuated earlier to makeshift camps in Biera. Their land now lies idle, with low lying rice fields destroyed.

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