Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall over Mozambique on March 15, producing torrential rains and strong winds across the country, as well as in neighboring Malawi and Zimbabwe. Cyclone Idai is now the worst natural disaster in southern Africa in nearly two decades. Approximately 900 square miles of land is covered in water – an area larger than New York City and Los Angeles combined. The catastrophic flooding triggered by the storm has killed more than 460 people and 1.85 million people are in need of assistance.
On March 20, USAID deployed a DART to Mozambique to assess damage, identify priority needs, and work closely with partners to provide critical assistance to people in Mozambique. This elite team from USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance includes logisticians, and shelter, health, and water, sanitation, and hygiene experts. The DART is currently ramping up response efforts, working with the World Food Program (WFP), International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Vision, and CARE to provide emergency shelter, food, water, improved sanitation, and hygiene supplies. The DART is conducting aerial assessments of and taking an on-the-ground look at the damaged areas. The team has identified food, health, shelter, water, sanitation, and hygiene as priority needs to help the affected communities.
On March 25, the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced nearly $3.4 million in additional emergency humanitarian food assistance to meet the urgent needs caused by Cyclone Idai and the related flooding in the Republic of Mozambique. This funding brings the total U.S. investment in this humanitarian response in southern Africa to nearly $4.1 million.
The new funding, provided to the World Food Programme, will help deliver approximately 2,500 metric tons of rice, peas, and vegetable oil to affected people in Sofala, Zambezia, and Manica Provinces. This life-saving emergency food assistance will support approximately 160,000 people for one month.
On March 27, the U.S. military—in coordination with USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) and the Government of Mozambique—commenced air operations to deliver humanitarian assistance to communities affected by Cyclone Idai. In the coming days, U.S. military aircraft will also begin airlifting more than 100 metric tons of WFP food rations, including high-energy, nutritional products—known as ready-to-use supplementary foods (RUSF)—from South Africa to Beira and Chimoio.
As the world's largest donor of humanitarian assistance, the United States remains committed to helping people affected by this devastating cyclone. Our thoughts are with the people of Mozambique. You can learn more about the U.S. response here. If you would like to help, please visit the Center for International Disaster Information website here.
About the Author: Aimee Lauer serves as the Response Manager on USAID’s Mozambique Cyclone Response.