In the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, Mozambique’s government and humanitarian organizations are struggling to stave off a hunger crisis, according to ABC News.
The storm, which hit Southern Africa on March 14, flooded more than 1.7 million acres of farmland, leaving tens of thousands of subsistence farmers without crops, and depriving the country overall of its main source of food. Fisheries and livestock operations were also heavily impacted by the cyclone, according to the World Food Program (WFP).
As of March 27, more than 1.7 million people were in need of food assistance.
“These people’s lives have been devastated, they have no livelihoods now, they’ve lost their homes, they’ve lost their farms, they’ve lost their crops, they’ve lost loved ones. And they’re going to need help at least for the next six to 12 months to get back on their feet,” David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, said in a press release.
“We need the international community to rally behind the victims of this storm with major financial support, so WFP can help the survivors of Cyclone Idai,” he added.
The WFP is leading the charge to minimize the growing hunger crisis, and at the start of April had already sent food and supplies to 350,000 people. The organization is procuring massive quantities of cereals, vegetable oil, and fortified blended foods to send to people over the next few months. It has also put out a call for $140 million in assistance, and governments including Switzerland and the United States have pledged funds.
Organizations are also distributing seeds and tools to farmers to take advantage of the dwindling window for the season’s second major harvest, which generally provides Mozambique with 10% of its food.
Since the cyclone destroyed infrastructure throughout much of the region, and flooding isolated large chunks of the country, Mozambique’s government has been working to restore roads and bridges to allow aid groups to better access remote communities, which could facilitate the distribution of food.
While aid groups have ruled out the likelihood of a famine, months of chronic hunger could have a severe impact on people across the country, especially among children.
The death toll from Cyclone Idai currently stands at 847 across Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, and that number continues to rise as a cholera outbreak spreads throughout region.
Although the immediate threat of the storm has gone, aid workers stress that the hardest work has yet to come — rebuilding communities that have been devastated.