Disaster relief

Rotary members support mapping response to Cyclone Idai

Rotary members support mapping response to Cyclone Idai

Cyclone Idai was one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. The storm caused catastrophic damage in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, leaving more than 800 people dead and hundreds more are missing. The UK charity MapAction has been on the ground supporting relief efforts.

As the scale of the disaster caused by Cyclone Idai becomes clearer, with hundreds known to have died, there is a race against time to get those affected the help they need.

Waterborne diseases and the decimation of agriculture and livelihoods threaten the survival of hundreds of thousands of people in Mozambique and surrounding countries.

With support from Rotary across Great Britain and Ireland, humanitarian mapping charity MapAction has been on the ground in Mozambique mapping the extent and impacts of the flooding and the needs of those affected.

It’s now clear that in parts of Mozambique, all of the population has been directly affected by damage to crops and homes.

Many people are still missing, meaning that more bodies are likely to be uncovered as flood waters recede.

Rotary’s support helps to ensure we can keep our equipment and personnel response-ready at all times so that we can start helping as soon as we’re needed.”

Many wells used for drinking water are now contaminated, while latrines and other sanitation facilities have been destroyed, meaning disease outbreaks are inevitable.

MapAction’s team of highly trained, expert volunteers is working directly with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC), at the heart of response planning and coordination, providing vital situation maps and information management services needed by aid agencies to get help to where it’s most needed, as quickly as possible.

This includes disseminating information about the status of vital infrastructure such as roads and hospitals, areas of greatest need and what help is already being provided and where.

Three MapAction members are currently stationed in Beira – the city that took the full brunt of the cyclone, suffering catastrophic damage – while a fourth is in one of UNDAC’s regional coordination centres in Chimoio, in the west of the country.

A further team rotation flew out this weekend.

Dozens of Rotary clubs in the UK have collectively contributed around £10,000 to MapAction in recent months, helping to ensure the charity has the capacity to respond to disasters like Idai as soon as they happen.

Nigel Press, chair of MapAction’s board of trustees, commented, “We are extremely grateful for the support of so many Rotary clubs.

“It helps to ensure we can keep our equipment and personnel response-ready at all times so that we can start helping as soon as we’re needed.

“Because we work through expert volunteers, and because our efforts inform the work of so many of the aid agencies working to help people affected by Cyclone Idai, Rotarians can rest assured that their donations are already having a powerful impact.”


MapAction’s latest Idai maps are viewable here.

To request a talk by MapAction at your club, or to make a donation, please email info@mapaction.org or visit their website.

Feature image courtesy of Luke Caley

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