5 Ways the U.S. is Responding to Cyclone Idai
On March 15, Tropical Cyclone Idai — the worst natural disaster to hit southern Africa in two decades — made landfall over Mozambique, producing torrential rains and strong winds across the country, as well as in neighboring Malawi and Zimbabwe. The cyclone caused catastrophic flooding, which has killed hundreds of people so far, and damaged or destroyed homes, farmland, and public infrastructure — including major roadways, bridges, and hospitals.
The cyclone hit areas that were already reeling from flooding that occurred earlier this month, heightening existing humanitarian needs and leaving nearly 1.9 million people in need of assistance.
Here are five ways the United States is helping people affected by Cyclone Idai:
1. Sending a USAID Disaster Team
On March 20, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to Mozambique to coordinate U.S. response efforts, conduct damage assessments, identify priority needs, and work closely with local authorities and humanitarian organizations to provide critical assistance to people in need.
At its height, this elite team comprised 17 members, including logisticians, as well as experts in shelter, health, food security, and water, sanitation, and hygiene.
2. Providing U.S. Military Support
On March 27, at the request of USAID, the U.S. military—in coordination with the Government of Mozambique — commenced air operations to deliver humanitarian assistance to communities affected by Cyclone Idai. USAID had requested the unique capabilities of the U.S. military to provide transportation and logistics assistance.
The Department of Defense U.S. Africa Command deployed military cargo aircraft to support the USAID-led response by delivering relief supplies to hard-to-reach areas and allowing the DART to conduct aerial damage assessments to help identify the most affected areas and the most critical needs.
The U.S. Department of Defense also deployed the 435th Contingency Response Group, along with cargo handling equipment, to help expedite the flow of relief supplies. This technical team is working closely with USAID and the Government of Mozambique at the airports in Maputo and Chimoio to ensure that aid is delivered quickly to people in need. They are providing 24-hour support for receiving and packaging aid.
3. Airlifting Relief Supplies
USAID’s DART conducted assessments in Beira and confirmed that shelter is a priority need. In addition, there is very limited access to safe drinking water, and a severe lack of hygiene supplies.
In response, USAID is airlifting critical commodities — including two water treatment units, water containers, heavy-duty plastic sheeting, shelter toolkits, blankets, kitchen sets, and hygiene supplies — to Mozambique from our emergency warehouses in Dubai and Pisa. USAID will work with the U.S. military and partners on the ground to distribute relief supplies to people impacted by the Cyclone.
4. Supporting Humanitarian Programs
To help people who have lost everything, we’re working with our UN and NGO partners to deliver lifesaving aid to those most in need. This includes partnering with World Vision to provide emergency shelter, as well as water, sanitation, and hygiene programs; and the International Organization for Migration to provide shelter kits.
Because women and children tend to be particularly vulnerable in the aftermath of a natural disaster, USAID is working with CARE to provide relief supplies specifically for women and girls. This includes hygiene kits containing sanitary napkins, soap, buckets, and toothbrushes.
To meet growing food needs in Mozambique, USAID is working with the World Food Program to provide enough food for nearly 1.5 million people. This includes delivering more than 19,000 metric tons of rice, peas, fortified cereal and vegetable oil, as well as food vouchers so that families can purchase food in local markets.
5. Preparing Before Disaster Strikes
USAID also works year round to reduce the impact of disasters by helping communities become more self-reliant. One of the first search and rescue teams on the ground in Mozambique was Rescue South Africa, a team that USAID has helped train for years.
For people who are trapped after a disaster, every minute counts, and having national and regional teams that can respond quickly is critical.
The United States stands by everyone who has been affected by this disaster, and will continue our work to save lives, alleviate suffering, and help people recover.
Read more about USAID’s humanitarian response to Cyclone Idai. For ways to help people affected by the disaster, visit USAID’s Center for International Disaster Information.