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A young boy walks past a house submerged in water caused by Cyclone Idai in Inchope, Mozambique, Monday March 25, 2019. Cyclone Idai's death toll has risen above 750 in the three southern African countries hit 10 days ago by the storm, as workers rush to restore electricity, water and try to prevent outbreak of cholera.
Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
ImpactEducation

The UK Is Helping Half a Million Children Get Back to School After Cyclone Idai


Why Global Citizens Should Care 
Thousands of classrooms across Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe were destroyed by Cyclone Idai last month, and getting children back into school is a vital part of the relief efforts. The UN’s Global Goal 4 calls for everyone to have access to a quality education. Join the movement by taking action here to support that goal. 

When Cyclone Idai made landfall in Southern Africa a month ago, it left 750 people dead and around 3 million people in desperate need of help. 

Across the three countries hit — Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe — children have been some of the worst affected. 

As well as their houses and communities being uprooted, and their parents or caregivers potentially missing or killed, they all face a greater risk of malnutrition and threat from diseases like cholera. 

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Thousands of classrooms in the three countries were destroyed by the cyclone, meaning that hundreds of thousands of children have been left unable to go to school. 

Humanitarian agencies have also warned that many children are now, as a result, vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and gender-based violence. 

It’s for these many reasons that the UK has announced new funding to support relief efforts, with £10 million more funding allocated for humanitarian aid, including food, water, and sanitation. 

But crucially, the funding also includes a further £4 million to help provide emergency education access to children caught up in the disaster. 

Penny Mordaunt, the UK’s minister for international development, announced the funding as she arrived in Washington, DC, ahead of the World Bank Spring Meetings last week. 

“We have all seen images of the terrible suffering and devastation caused by Cyclone Idai,” Mordaunt said. “The UK has, from the start, led the way in supporting the victims of this destruction and the fresh funding I am announcing will provide further help where it is most needed, right now.”

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The education funding is going to support Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the UNICEF-hosted global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. 

According to ECW, about 263,000 children have been left out-of-school in Mozambique; an estimated 60,000 children from close to 150 schools in Zimbabwe; and an estimated 200 schools have been impacted in Malawi. 

The UK’s funding, alongside funding from the ECW Global Trust Fund and Dubai Cares, amounts to up to $14 million (about £10.7 million) in funds — enough to restore education service for an estimated 500,000 children and young people. 

The First Emergency Responses in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe will focus on things like setting up temporary learning spaces; providing learning materials; supporting communities to get children back to school; giving teachers the tools, training, and support they need to provide psycho-social support for the children in their care; and supporting governments to build back better, according to ECW. 

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“A sudden and unexpected natural disaster of this magnitude causes immense human suffering,” said Yasmine Sherif, director of ECW. “Unless education services are given priority, the suffering will be prolonged and cause deeper disruption and trauma in their lives.” 

“I am deeply grateful to DfID and Dubai Cares for setting a shining example,” she added. “They moved swiftly together with ECW to provide a coordinated and speedy response … to reduce suffering and restore hope when these children and youth need it the most.” 

The Education Cannot Wait fund exists to transform how education is delivered in emergencies — teaming up governments, with humanitarian and development workers to make sure the educational needs of children and young people in crises are met.

It aims to reach all crisis-affected children and young people with safe, free, and quality education by 2030, in line with the UN Global Goal 4 for education. 

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So far in the wake of Cyclone Idai, UK aid has provided temporary accommodation for around 50,000 people affected by the cyclone, and cash support and food supplies to feed around 700,000 people, according to the Department for International Development (DfID). 

It has also sent purification cubes, blankets, and solar lanterns to the region, and provided chartered planes and equipment to help distribute supplies. 

And people, too — with a team of British health workers in the area, working alongside the World Health Organisation in Mozambique, to help deal with the growing threat of diseases like malaria and cholera. 

Meanwhile Mordaunt, at the World Bank Spring Meetings last week, also co-hosted a discussion of the response to the cyclone, encouraging other donors to boost their support for survivors. 

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As well as the immediate response to the crisis, Mordaunt urged leaders to “plan for the future, too.” 

She warned that over the next century, increasing temperatures will make severe weather events like Cyclone Idai even more frequent — particularly across Africa. 

While African nations are responsible for just 2-3% of global emissions, according to DfID, the continent is also set to be worst impacted by climate change. 

“The UK is already leading the way in helping African communities adapt to climate shocks, providing technical expertise and finance,” Mordaunt said. 

“However, climate change is a global issue which requires global action,” she continued. “We must act now, so worldwide we are better prepared to deal with future extreme weather events. If we don’t, the consequences could be devastating.” 

Britain, through its aid budget, has already pledged £5.8 billion to support developing countries respond to the challenges of climate change up to 2021.