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Cyclone Idai anniversary: survivors hit by flooding, drought and food crisis


One year after Cyclone Idai devastated Mozambique, survivors are still living in makeshift shelters and are now facing an escalating food and climate crisis.

Recent flooding affecting more than 70,000 people in the region of Sofala, where Idai made landfall, brought back terrifying memories of the deadly storm, as homes and crops were once again swept away.

An estimated two million people in Mozambique are facing food shortages due to recent flooding and drought. In the areas most affected by Idai, the risk of a failed April harvest and the end of food support provided by NGOs in the wake of the cyclone, is putting families in a precarious position.  

ActionAid Mozambique’s country director Gaspar Sitefane says: “Most families were succeeding a little to recover, but with this recent flooding, everything was lost again. People are losing their hope.”

ActionAid Mozambique is supporting communities trying to recover from Idai in the Buzi and Nhamatanda districts of Sofala. But increasingly erratic weather, including drought and flooding, in an area where most people rely on small-scale farming, is making it harder for families to escape food insecurity and rising poverty. 

Maria Ussene, 19, and her husband João Milione, 26, were among 47 people who took refuge in ActionAid’s safe space during the February flooding.

Like many of those who had not yet recovered from Idai before the flooding hit, they lost everything. Their small shelter, made from mud and wood, collapsing in the heavy rains.

João and his twin brother Paulo try to earn extra money to buy food by working for local farms. But both, traumatised by the loss of their uncle during Idai, are planning to move elsewhere due to the increasing intensity and frequency of flooding and drought.  

Fatima Chico, 60, and Fernando Panganna, 64, saw their two hectares of crops destroyed by recent flooding. Maize, bananas, papaya, cucumber and sesame were all lost. Now they are struggling to find enough food for their large family of four children and six grandchildren.

Marta Chilumguame, 50, lives with her children and grandchildren in the Ndedja resettlement village, set up in the aftermath of Idai. Residents still live in temporary shelters and rely on food support, which is due to end this month.

As she fled the nearby village of John Segredo, which was wiped out by the storm, Marta clung to a tree for five days waiting for water levels to go down.  

One year on, Marta says her family is still reliant on food support and her grandchildren are often too hungry to go to school. She is getting increasingly worried about their future.

Eugénia Caluco’s son Noé (Portuguese for Noah) was born during Cyclone Idai, his arrival bringing hope to the community amid the death and destruction.  

Eugénia’s home was destroyed when the storm hit, and she was sheltering in her mother-in-law’s house when she went into labour in the middle of the night. The family braved the rising flood waters, to reach two deserted local hospitals before finding a nurse sheltering in the third, who helped bring Noé into the world safely.

In southern areas, prolonged drought is devastating communities. In the province of Inhambane more than 27,000 families are facing severe food shortages.

Mavisse Chirindza, 43, is a single mother of five children aged between five and 19. It has only rained once over the past year in Funhalouro and Mavisse’s crops have failed, unable to survive the intense heat and lack of water.

Mavisse walks 8km to the nearest river to get water. The trip takes her all day. Water is so scarce that sometimes only salt water is available. The family is only able to bathe once a week.

The family is surviving by foraging for cacana fruit, which they make into a juice and the kernels are turned into nuts.  

Gaspar Sitefane, country director of ActionAid Mozambique, explains how the organisation is continuing its response to Idai and the food crisis:

“We’ll keep our focus on supporting communities on protection, because we believe this is crucial. By being in the community you realise the level of violence against women and girls will grow more if the crisis continues.

“We’ll continue supporting with seeds and agriculture, particularly giving people seeds that can resist drought.”

He adds: “We need to ensure that we change the current scenario the world is facing, particularly in Southern Africa. People will be dying soon because of the effects of climate change. If we’re able to act now, to pressure our governments to do more, we will save millions of lives.”  


For more information and images contact Jenna Pudelek in the ActionAid press office on +44(0)7795642990 or

Notes to editors:

Watch Noé’s story:

ActionAid is responding to the food and climate crisis in Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, where 9.5 million people are facing severe hunger after two major cyclones, erratic rains, flooding and the worst drought the region has seen in 35 years. 

Shockingly across the Southern Africa region, 45 million people are facing severe food insecurity. 

ActionAid is distributing life-saving food supplies and supporting women to set up protection spaces, in response to a surge in incidents of gender-based violence.