Accessibility links

Breaking News

3 Months Later, Zimbabweans Still Feel Effects of Cyclone Idai

The United Nations says many people in Cyclone Idai affected areas in Zimbabwe such as Chimanimani district are still homeless, food insecure and failing to access basic health care, June 9, 2019. (C. Mavhunga for VOA)

Cyclone Idai ripped through eastern Zimbabwe three months ago after striking Mozambique and Malawi. A top U.N. official for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief said Monday Zimbabweans in the storm-hit areas are still struggling.

Ursula Mueller said the situation in the cyclone-hit areas of Zimbabwe is still "devastating and distressing." She said people are still food insecure and cannot access basic health care.

"This is particularly distressing for people living with HIV who face a double dilemma of being unable to access drugs," she said. "Even if they can access them, not be being able to absorb them on an empty stomach."

Mueller, who is visiting Harare, said the U.N. and its partners have received just 40 percent of the $294 million they appealed for to respond to the effects of Cyclone Idai.

FILE - Victims of Cyclone Idai receive food aid at Siverstream Estates in Chipinge, Zimbabwe, March 24 ,2019.
FILE - Victims of Cyclone Idai receive food aid at Siverstream Estates in Chipinge, Zimbabwe, March 24 ,2019.

That is certainly not good news for people like 79-year-old Everisto Gambire, whose home was totally destroyed by Cyclone Idai. He survived, but not his four grandchildren.

"It's still painful up to now," he said. "They had grown up and I could manage to send them to do some chores like cleaning dishes when their grandmother was not around. The loss is still troubling my mind. My son Mathew is really hurt too for his loss of children. He is suggesting of relocating. Remaining here in this place is troubling him."

El Lovemore Utseya, the councilor for Chimanimani, says he has been overwhelmed by people, like Gambire, who want to be relocated.

"They are really pleading, asking for new places to settle as it is now difficult to live in hilly areas," said Utseya. "All their fields and grazing lands were wiped out by the heavy rains and winds."

Mueller said it is "very important that there are plans and actions to resettle these people in areas that are not disaster-prone."

But with the lack of funding for the relief efforts, it might take time for people like Gambire and his family to find a new home.