Cyclone Idai: One Year of Hard Work and Hope
Cyclone Idai destroyed crops, livelihoods and hope - but with Penny Appeal’s help, people are reclaiming their lives after the storm.
Cyclone Idai ripped through Southern Africa in March 2019, devastating the lives of people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and some areas of Malawi. This deadly cyclone brought with it catastrophic flooding, violent gale force winds, destruction of property and homes, and the tragic loss of more than 1,000 lives.
Around 3 million people were affected by Cyclone Idai. Their whole world was turned upside down by one of the worst tropical cyclones on record but in the year that followed this tragedy, Penny Appeal has helped 24,714 of people to rebuild their communities and restore their livelihoods.
Soon after Cyclone Idai hit the ground, Penny Appeal was on the ground too. Our Disaster Response Team was deployed within days, and committed to helping people in Mozambique survive the aftermath of this storm and provided them with essential food and water packs, hygiene and dignity kits, school supplies and emergency shelter for those who had lost their homes to Cyclone Idai.
In Buzi, a town isolated from aid due to blockages caused by the storm, thousands of people were struggling to survive and were in desperate need of help, so Penny Appeal stepped in when others couldn’t. We went to Buzi by boat, and after a long and difficult journey delivered food and other essentials to struggling families and children at a local orphanage.
The city of Beira is home to more than half a million people, and each and every one of them needed support after Cyclone Idai swept through. Almost 90% of the entire city was destroyed and left in ruins; the sheer devastation left our team in shock but only solidified their desire to bring relief to the people here. Our Disaster Response Team acted quickly and efficiently, delivering aid to communities in high need areas and continually assessed the needs of the people in Beira. They carried out targeted food distributions throughout the area and distributed hygiene and dignity kits to vulnerable people.
The help didn’t stop here though. After our initial emergency response, Penny Appeal started work on some sustainable projects that would help people rebuild their lives and learn new skills. With generous donations from people all over the country, we were able to give back to the communities some of what they had lost and bring hope to Southern Africa once again.
One year on: the storm is gone, but we’re still here
In the year following Cyclone Idai, Penny Appeal has been hard at work throughout Southern Africa, training people with small farms and helping them cultivate crops that will not only feed their families and communities, but restore livelihoods as well.
We provided communities in Mozambique and Malawi with the tools they need to gain their livelihoods back and kick-start crop production throughout the areas. Our sustainable food project focused on implementing training on farming techniques, crop care and soil identification, while distributing around 15 tonnes of orange-fleshed sweet potato seeds to 389 smallholder farmers.
Out of all these men and women, 7 people were chosen to be community activists and take on the role of helping the community improve crop production and assist where needed. 279 of these farmers were also trained on how to identify imminent weather threats that could affect their crop growth. This group of people were also educated on the appropriate periods for vegetable and crop production during the rainy and dry seasons. With these skills in hand and the seeds they need to bring new life to their communities, these farmers can now rebuild their lives and help other South Africans heal from Cyclone Idai.
Planting seeds of hope
Cecília is a 57-year-old mother of 5 from Mozambique, and one of the farmers we’ve helped through our sustainable food project after Cyclone Idai. Her life has been changed for the better now that she has learned different farming techniques and was given seeds to start her own sweet potato plot. She can now support her family with the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes she grows, and selling the seeds and goods she makes from her crops.
Cecília expressed her joy to us, saying,
“When I was contacted by the United Purpose [our partner in South Africa] technician asking me to supply 5 tonnes of orange-fleshed sweet potato (seed), I was thinking it couldn’t be true. I was so happy because I would earn money for my family and in the same time support people who suffered from Cyclone Idai in Sussundenga last year.
So, I am happy to know that there may be other people, especially other women like me, who will change their lives like me. My income has increased considerably because I sell my own branch as seed and I also sell the tuber itself in addition to feeding my family. I asked the technician to teach new beneficiaries all the things they taught us, for example how to make potato juice, cakes and jam among other things.”
Rebuilding homes and lives
Another family we have helped through our sustainable food project is Bernadette’s family of 5 in Malawi. Bernadette’s family had a good life before the cyclone hit, with her husband and herself providing for their family through farming and some casual labour. During Cyclone Idai, their house collapsed and they lost all their crops to the storm. The family had to move to a refugee camp, living in difficult circumstances with little food.
With the help of Penny Appeal and our partners on the ground, Bernadette’s family was provided with a food pack, dignity kit and other relief items while in the refugee camp. The family is now rebuilding their home and restarting their farm with the sweet potato seeds provided by Penny Appeal.
“You helped us whilst we were in the camp, by providing relief items, including 40kg maize flour, 50 packets of soya pieces, 5 kg beans, 2 litres cooking oil, sanitary pads, 9 tablets of laundry soap and a plastic sheet.
Thanks to this support, my husband and no longer had to labour in the fields in order to earn money for food, but instead I had enough time to take care of my children and family.
We are now recovering from the shock and we are building a new house! The black plastic sheet, which you gave us in the camp, will be used for roofing of our house.
Penny Appeal have also given us sweet potato vine bundles, which we have planted near our new home. This will grow to become nutritious food for our family to eat and sell.
I applaud Penny Appeal and United Purpose for saving our family during a critical time.”
Always fast to act when crisis strikes, Penny Appeal’s Emergency Response team is always there for people in need like Bernadette and what’s more, we stay to help them get back on their feet after immediate relief is no longer needed. Keep your finger on the pulse and help support those in need by checking out our Emergency Response appeal and making a donation to help people who have been affected by disaster today.
FRIDAY 13 MAR 2020