Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) is currently monitoring the effects and recovery efforts related to Cyclone Idai.
On March 14th, Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi causing widespread damage, fatalities, and misplaced people. Currently the death toll has risen to over 750 people (Mozambique 446, Zimbabwe 259, and Malawi 56), but with flood waters still receding the number could rise to over other 1000 in Mozambique alone. Nearly 110,000 people are in camps and emergency rescue efforts are still underway over a week after the storm ended. The flooded area is approximately 1100 square miles. Filipe Nyusi, Mozambique's president, has said 1.8 million people are in need of urgent help and there are some communities that are still cut off from the outside world and emergency help.
Concerns of a cholera outbreak are being realized as cases are starting to be confirmed now. Cholera is spread by contaminated food and water and the governments are struggling to provide clean water in the region. The World Health Organization, which is warning of a potential “second disaster” if the disease spreads, has dispatched 900,000 doses of cholera vaccine that are expected to arrive next week. Risks of malaria and pneumonia are also increased and regular health services are interrupted putting people living with chronic illnesses at further risk.
The path that Idai took is unusual. In 2000, there were an unusually high number of storms in the region, which is linked to the warmer than usual sea temperatures. The current temperatures in the Indian ocean is warmer than usual, which may have contributed to the Idai’s intensity. In regions that are not used to experiencing intense storms like Idai, the existing infrastructure may not be prepared to withstand them compounding their impact.
We also know that developing nations and low-income communities will be disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change. Events like Idai in unusual locations and in hitting vulnerable populations is almost certainly going to happen more often. Because we know relief will be needed more frequently in the future, Foundation Beyond Belief is working hard to expand our capacity to bring relief wherever it’s most needed. For our 10th Anniversary, we’re aiming for ten new monthly donors each month for ten months. Monthly donations are the best way to ensure we’re ready to deploy compassionate humanist relief anywhere at anytime. Similarly, we can expect to see more flooding in the United States like we are currently seeing in Nebraska and Iowa as climate change shifts rainfall patterns causing heavy rainfall more often. Coupled with human alteration of the land and sea rise along the coasts, we can expect to see more flooding events in the US and the world that will require disaster recovery help.
As we work to strengthen and grow our disaster response capabilty, we’re recommending donations for relief efforts related to Cyclone Idai be directed to Action Aid USA—an organization we’ve worked with in the past in response to the Kerala Monsoon flooding. Action Aid USA is a great secular charity with a strong track record of successfully investing in “powerful people living in poverty and exclusion in more than 50 countries around the world who know what’s needed to change lives within their own communities, and have the power to mobilize and inspire others.” Action Aid USA has people and resources on the ground responding to the effects of Cyclone Idai and we encourage you to support their work.
We also hope you will support Foundation Beyond Belief’s 10th Anniversary Campaign to take our organization to the next level! By becoming a monthly donor, you can help FBB grow to meet the increasing needs of people vulnerable to disasters all over the world.
The Humanist Disaster Recovery program is sustained through a partnership between Foundation Beyond Belief and the American Humanist Association (AHA). We thank AHA for their generous support of our efforts.