Thousands of families are suffering severe food shortages six months after Cyclone Idai tore through central Mozambique, says Save the Children. The organization has spoken to survivors, many of whom are still living hand-to-mouth following the destruction of their homes and livelihoods.

Nearly 2 million people in Mozambique are expected to be severely food insecure in the coming months, more than twice the number the same time last year. At least 433,056 households have had their land and crops partially or totally destroyed. The lack of food has serious health implications, with an estimated 67,500 children already suffering from acute malnutrition and in need of treatment.

Save the Children is warning that unless families in the hard-hit areas receive support, more cyclone-children will struggle to survive.

Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique on March 14, killing 603 people and injuring 1,641. The country was struck by another devastating cyclone, Kenneth, on April 25 and then suffered a drought.

The combined crises have destroyed crops, seeds and devastated people’s means of living, pushing children and their families to and over the edge of hunger. An estimated 3,000 square kilometres of land suffered flooding during Cyclone Idai, with over 715,000 hectares of crop fields underwater and widespread damage to key infrastructure. Mud and sand still covers large swathes of land, making it impossible to farm, and there is a severe lack of seeds for the next, critical harvest.

Save the Children is especially concerned for young girls, who in these circumstances may be last to eat within a family, and may be eating less than their male counterparts. Girls are also at particular risk of exploitation, with many are still out of school and at risk of violence during their long walks to collect water. Boys in particular are at risk of being forced into work.

The organization is calling on international donors to commit an additional US $160 million to ensure children and families receive adequate food, and girls and boys are protected, including from gender-based violence.

Grandmother Maria (40) and her daughter-in-law Regina (35) lost their homes and crops in Cyclone Idai, and are now jointly caring for orphaned twin babies, Luisa and Franque. In July, Franque was diagnosed with moderate acute malnutrition, and both babies have suffered diarrhoea, malaria and the flu in the past six months.

Maria said:

“Now we are dying from hunger, all of us in the tents, are dying of hunger… We don’t have anything for us to eat… In some people’s farms there are bits of rotten corn, which we collect and peel them and grind them.”

Albertina (33) lives with her five children in a resettlement camp. During the cyclone and the floods that followed, Albertina and her family lost most of their belongings, including crops and food. Albertina said:

“The biggest problem that is worrying us is food, things to eat are very scarce… We cook our food without oil… Before the cyclone, we were farmers; we sold bananas for our survival. We cultivated sesame and we sold it as well as maize, even vegetables and onions, we sold them, that’s what helped us a lot, goats, and chickens to sell. But all of these things we don’t have anymore.”

Save the Children’s Country Director in Mozambique, Chance Briggs, said:

“We’re seeing recovery funds dry up just as people need them the most. Getting your life back together after you lose everything takes time. Six months on from Idai we are seeing families unable to earn cash because their crops have been destroyed, and sand and mud have overflowed the land they used to work. Many girls and boys are still out of school, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation, child labour and early marriage.

“While the destructive effects of climate change will be discussed at the UN Climate Change summit later this month, Mozambique is already suffering the harsh reality of erratic weather patterns. It is critical that donors use this opportunity, six months on from one of the most devastating natural disasters to strike this region, to commit new funds to support the recovery. The response has only been 50% funded to date, with these funds largely committed in the immediate aftermath of the cyclonevii. More is needed, urgently, to get families back in a position where they can look towards the future with hope and dignity.”




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