Trócaire has called on the people of Co. Tyrone to support up to 2.5 million people who have been devastated by the cyclone that has destroyed large parts of south east Africa.
Hundreds have died, while thousands of homes have been destroyed in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai.
As well as leaving people in need of shelter and food, Trócaire has warned that the long-term effects of the cyclone could be devastating as entire crops have been washed away.
Trócaire’s Country Director for Zimbabwe, Sarah McCan visited Masvingo, in Eastern Zimbabwe to assess the needs of people who have survived the storm. There she witnessed first-hand the devastation of Cylone Idai, which hit southern Africa this week.
“I’ve seen houses with roofs caved in, walls that have collapsed and fields of crops devastated,” said Sarah. “I visited a family whose two children were injured because their roof collapsed during the night with the force of the winds. The impact is enormous here.
“Zimbabwe is affected by many crises but it has never been hit by a cyclone like this before. Winds of 170km an hour and torrential rainfall literally destroyed homes and property and washed away crops and animals.”
Eastern Zimbabwe has been devastated with mudslides, landslides and rockfalls. Roads have been completely washed away, and over 15,000 people have been affected in that particular area.
The death toll in Zimbabwe is estimated to be between 100-200, but it is likely to rise as there are still several hundred people missing or unaccounted for.
Trócaire has been in Zimbabwe since the 1970s, working with communities facing poverty and injustice.
“We are here responding on the ground with local partners, who are amazing because they’re really at the coalface,” said Sarah. “We are providing shelter which is one of the most immediate needs. We are also providing food, clothing and clean water because people are at risk of drinking contaminated water which can lead to cholera and other water-borne diseases.”
Trócaire’s local partners have been assessing affected areas in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi.
The cyclone has left many areas inaccessible by both road and air, meaning that no official assessment has been done in large parts of the region.
Trocaire’s Siobhan Hanley, head of region in Northern Ireland, added: “2.5m people have been affected, which is more than the entire population of Northern Ireland.
“March is traditionally the end of the hungry season in the region affected by the cyclone. However, the loss of this year’s harvest and people’s crops due to these floods means that those who have survived will be facing into another 12 months before they can harvest again from their own land.
“For Trócaire, our huge job now after the immediate lifesaving assistance period will be to enable people to replant quickly if at all possible, so they can try to get another crop in this year and then also to provide access to food.
“Your support for our Lenten Appeal can help Trócaire bring urgent life-saving care to people in the worst affected areas.
“Every contribution, however small, makes a huge difference. So even £10 could make a lifesaving difference to a family because it could mean the difference between a family getting chlorine tablets and being able to treat and drink dirty water.”
To donate visit trocaire.org or phone 0800 912 1200.