Helping at home

While the DEC’s Coronavirus Appeal is helping refugees and people in fragile states overseas, some DEC charities are also supporting people in need in the UK.

The DEC has launched an appeal to help people facing coronavirus in some of the most vulnerable communities around the world, but obviously the effects of the virus - both medically and economically - are still being felt here in the UK.

Several DEC charities are working in the UK as well as abroad to help people affected. If you would like to contribute to their efforts within the UK you can find more information and links to their websites below.

The British Red Cross has been supporting people in isolation and working with the Department of Health, NHS England, Public Health England and local authorities. It continues to provide support and information to people affected by the virus through its network of staff and volunteers. You can donate to their UK appeal here.

Islamic Relief is working with various organisations to support vulnerable communities in the UK by providing food aid and financial assistance for those who can’t afford essential items and medical equipment to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation. It is also supporting Muslim burial services in the UK by providing PPE and repurposing facilities. You can donate to their UK or global appeals here.

Save the Children is helping the poorest children in the UK through the crisis by providing families with emergency grants, food vouchers, resources and equipment for home learning, and advice on how to explain the virus to children and manage stress. You can find out more and donate to their global appeal here.

The National Emergencies Trust (NET) - set up last year to distribute donations in a similar way to the DEC but in times of national crisis - has also launched an appeal to help people affected by Covid-19 in the UK. Donations to their appeal will go to local community foundations to help people ill with the virus, but also affected by the economic and social impact of the crisis. If you would like to support the NET in the UK response, further information can be found here


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Coronavirus Appeal

Millions of lives are at stake as Covid-19 hits refugee camps and war-torn countries like Yemen, Syria and South Sudan. Help families fleeing conflict face a deadly new threat.

Here in the UK we’ve all had to make sacrifices to protect each other and save lives during the coronavirus pandemic, and witnessed the incredible dedication of our amazing NHS staff.

But as lockdown lifts here, people around the world need our help – families who have fled violence, conflict and hunger in countries where there is no NHS if they fall ill.

Many are now living in crowded refugee and displacement camps with little access to medical care, clean water or enough food, making them extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. In these places, the virus is likely to be even more deadly than it has been here. 

Imagine having to leave everything behind to keep your family safe, only to face a deadly new threat: Covid-19. This is the reality for people living in tents and makeshift shelters without running water or soap in places like Yemen, Syria and Somalia.

But, as we have seen in the UK, simple measures can make a huge difference. If we act now to protect millions of vulnerable refugees and displaced people, many lives can be saved. 

We need your help to: 

  • provide families with clean water, soap and information on keeping themselves safe 
  • provide frontline medical and aid workers with equipment and supplies to care for the vulnerable and sick
  • ensure families get enough food to prevent malnutrition, particularly amongst children

People who have already suffered so much need your help now more than ever to face this new threat. Please give whatever you can at this challenging time for us all.


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Millions of lives are at stake as Covid-19 hits refugee camps and war-torn countries like Yemen, Syria and South Sudan. Help families fleeing conflict face a deadly new threat.
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First it’s about saving lives, then it’s about rebuilding them

Your donations help DEC charities save lives in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. But then the work to rebuild communities shattered by catastrophe begins.

Your donations help DEC charities save lives in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. But then the work to rebuild communities shattered by catastrophe begins.

Eko and Uchi stand in the doorway of their house in Donggala, Indonesia, which they built using a cash grant from Save the Children using DEC funds. Image: Hariandi Hafid/DEC

In the wake of the 2018 tsunami in Indonesia and Cyclone Idai in March 2019, DEC charities were some of the first to respond, providing life-saving assistance such as shelter, food, water and medical care. As a crisis unfolds, DEC charities act fast to save lives. The DEC model means we can release money to help them scale up quickly and efficiently. 

But that is just the beginning. After saving lives, we have to help rebuild them. Restoring livelihoods, providing water supplies, rebuilding homes, getting children back into education and helping people move forward from the trauma that they’ve experienced. Here are just a few examples of how your generous donations have enabled DEC charities to assist people in a time of great need, and the difference it made to their lives.

Ilda, Mozambique

Ilda sits outside the house that she rebuilt using tools and materials provided by Age International using DEC funds, in Sofala province, Mozambique. Image: Peter Caton/DEC

After Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, Ilda, 75, initially couldn’t find her house. “A tree that was close to it had fallen on top of the house and destroyed it so that I couldn’t even recognise it,” she says. “There was still a place where I could get inside like a mouse hiding, and that’s where I slept.”

Through her neighbours, Ilda heard that DEC member Age International was offering help to elderly people. Ilda received a shelter kit including materials and tools to rebuild her house as well as household items and clothes. “The tools that I received were very helpful because I didn’t have any materials to rebuild my house,” explains Ilda. “I would say my life has changed from what it could have been.”

Your generosity enabled DEC charities to provide 15,000 families with emergency shelter materials.

Hijrah, Indonesia

Hijrah puts salt from her salt farm into bags to sell in Palu, Indonesia. She received help from Oxfam to help restart her business using DEC funds. Image: Hariandi Hafid/DEC

“My husband almost got killed by the tsunami,” says Hijrah, 48, “but he survived. He was harvesting at the time, so he saw the tsunami in front of his eyes. Luckily my children are also safe.”

Like many in her community, Hijrah and her husband have a salt farm close to the shore where the tsunami came in. The trauma of the tsunami meant many of them were scared to go back to the shore to restart their businesses. Oxfam provided materials to help people start salt farming again. Hijrah says that this helped motivate people to restart their businesses and move on with their lives. “The economy is improving. Because of this help, it improves faster.” Hirjah says. “The families of the victims of the disaster are also starting to work. We cannot keep dwelling on the past.”

DEC funds helped 13,000 people like Hijrah restart their livelihoods in the first six months following the Indonesia earthquake and tsunami.

Joelma*, Mozambique

Joelma, 11, (right) and her sister Elsinha*, 4, at a World Vision children's centre funded by the DEC near Buzi, Mozambique. Image: Peter Caton/DEC

The violent weather and immense destruction caused by Cyclone Idai left many children traumatised. “I was scared because the roof was shaking so hard and then it went flying off,” says Joelma, 11, who was at her mother’s stall when the cyclone hit. The roof had also been torn off her family’s house, leaving all their belongings soaked in water, and they struggled to find food and clean water.

Many children like Joelma relived the traumatic experience of the cyclone in nightmares. “I was scared at night because I thought Cyclone Idai would come back and I would have nightmares about it coming again,” explained Joelma. However, the work of volunteers at a World Vision children’s centre has helped children overcome their fear. “When I started coming to the centre the ‘aunties’ made us dance and sing and they explained what the cyclone was and so we weren't scared anymore”, says Joelma. “Now, I don’t feel scared when I hear a strong wind.”

Thanks to your help, after Cyclone Idai 127 safe spaces were created to support people in recovering from the trauma of the disaster.

Ibrahim, Indonesia

Ibrahim (left) and his family sit in their partially constructed house which they are building using a cash grant from Save the Children using DEC funds. Image: Hariandi Hafid/DEC

When the earth began to shake and buildings started to fall, Ibrahim, 51, and his family managed to escape to higher ground. Like many other people, they returned to find that their home had been destroyed, so DEC member Save the Children gave them material for a temporary shelter. However, living in the temporary shelter was hard. “In rainy season, we were flooded by about 20cm of rain,” says Ibrahim. “But we didn’t have anywhere else to go. Thank God, help has come.” Save the Children were able to provide families with a cash grant which Ibrahim is using to rebuild his family’s house.

“We started to build this house one month ago,” he says, choking back tears. “I’m completely happy right now. I’ve been wishing for a house for a long time. We are very grateful. I’m very proud that I am building this house.”

In the first six months following the Indonesia earthquake and tsunami, your generous donations provided cash grants for 10,000 families like Ibrahim’s, and emergency shelter for 59,000 people.

Joaquin, Mozambique

Joaquin checks on his newly germinated crops in Sofala province, Mozambique. World Vision distributed drought and pest-resistant seeds using DEC funds to help farmers start growing again. Image: Peter Caton/DEC

The first thing Joaquin, 55, did once Cyclone Idai had passed was to go see what had happened to his farm. “Once I got there I saw the devastation. I realised that I had absolutely nothing left. All my harvest was spoiled. The water was covering everything,” he recalls. His whole family worked on the farm and its destruction left them without work, income or food. “The general feeling was of hopelessness,” says Joaquin.

To make matters worse, the family couldn’t get their remaining seeds to grow, until DEC member World Vision distributed drought- and pest-resistant seeds. Now, Joaquin tends to fields of sprouting maize. “I feel very happy because without these seeds we would have had many problems,” he says. “The land would have been empty because we had no seeds, and our bellies would have been empty because we wouldn’t have had food. But these donated seeds have helped so much.”

Helping people start growing crops again has been a major focus for DEC charities since the cyclone, and DEC funds have helped 220,000 people replant. 

Mesar, Indonesia

Mesar (left) and his friend Jokson work on maintaining the water system installed in their village in Donggala, Indonesia by Oxfam using DEC funds. Image: Hariandi Hafid/DEC

Mesar, 43, his wife and their seven children survived the earthquake in Indonesia, but afterwards found themselves with nothing to eat. DEC member Oxfam helped their community by providing food, cleaning kits, blankets and a water supply. The community helped to build the water supply system and received training on how to maintain it themselves. “We are very grateful that Oxfam has helped us with this water supply,” says Mesar, “because in the early days [after the earthquake] we had difficulty getting water.”

Many people also received trauma counselling. “The people who live here are still feeling traumatized by the terrible disaster that happened last year. Even the slightest movement can surprise me. That’s why the trauma counselling is really needed, for children and adults.”

In the first six months after the earthquake, DEC funds provided safe drinking water to 44,000 people like Mesar.

If you would like to stay in touch with the DEC and hear more about how your generous donations have helped people rebuild their lives after a crisis, please sign up to our mailing list below, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Interviews by Khairunnisa Zainal Abidin and Susan Martinez.

*Children’s names have been changed to protect their identities

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Cyclone Idai: You gave shelter, supplies, seeds and training, but most importantly you gave hope

DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed on how the aid effort is helping people in Mozambique rebuild their lives after March’s disaster.

DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed on how the aid effort is helping people in Mozambique rebuild their lives after March’s disaster.

Joaquin, a farmer, tends to his newly germinated crops near Buzi, Mozambique. His farm was destroyed in the cyclone and no crops would grow until a DEC charity distributed specially adapted seeds. Image: Peter Caton/DEC

After a busy year for the news, the events in Southern Africa at the end of March might seem like a distant memory to us, but the effects of Cyclone Idai are very much still being felt.

The cyclone hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe hard. The UN Secretary General called it “one of the worst weather-related catastrophes in the history of Africa”. What made it so devastating, especially in Mozambique, which I recently visited, was that the cyclone itself was only half the disaster. Once it had passed came the floods. Water swept down from higher ground washing away homes, crops and, tragically, lives. More than 900 people were killed, and almost three million people were left in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

This, of course, is where the Disasters Emergency Committee comes in. Generous donations from hundreds of thousands of people like you meant our member charities were able to respond immediately with life-saving supplies. But that was just the beginning. After saving lives, we have to rebuild them.

During my visit to Mozambique, I saw how your donations were being put to work to help people who had been badly affected by the cyclone and subsequent flooding. At the heart of every community are women, mothers, girls. They are often amongst the most vulnerable and are disproportionately affected when disasters strike, and it was some of these women whose strength I found particularly inspiring.

I met Maria (left), who like many in her community had lost most of her possessions. Their homes, crops, livelihoods and the local school all gone. Maria explained how with a little training and some seeds provided by DEC charity Plan International she was able to grow vegetables. “I have been able to feed my family, give away vegetables to my friends and still have some to sell as well,” she told me. This has been a major focus for DEC charities in the wake of this disaster, and DEC funds have enabled them to help more than 220,000 people get growing again across the three affected countries.

As well as affecting people personally, the cyclone and flooding also wrecked local infrastructure. Communities here were already poor before the cyclone hit, and thousands of people could depend on a single well or borehole for clean water. Thanks to a new water well in her village provided through Oxfam using DEC funds, Sara, who proudly carries her baby wherever she goes, can now collect clean water whenever she needs it. “The well is only a few minutes' walk. Before I had to go to the river which is 7km away. It was very dangerous because the water is dirty and there are crocodiles,” she said. What’s more, Sara and others in the village have been trained to maintain the well, ensuring they can keep it working without further intervention. More than 100,000 people now have access to safe drinking water through infrastructure repaired with DEC funds.

I also sat in on a meeting at a women’s centre that had been set up by ActionAid and funded by the DEC. It was so powerful to see woman after woman get up and tell their story, and to say thank you for providing the space. It was obvious how much it meant to them. Not only was it a distribution point for essential household items lost in the floods, but it also became a safe space where they support each other, get training, resolve problems and sometimes just take on the injustices they face, including domestic violence. Their principle is: ‘If you touch one of us you touch all of us’, a powerful message. In total, we estimate that around 11,000 people have attended DEC-funded safe spaces like this one for women and children.

A member of the community speaks at a meeting at the women's centre set up by ActionAid using DEC funds. Image: Saleh Saeed/DEC

These are just a few of the stories and statistics showing what our member charities have achieved in the wake of this disaster. DEC funds have reached hundreds of thousands of people. And none of it would have been possible without your generous donations and support.

You gave people shelter, supplies, seeds, training and water systems, but most of all, you gave them hope. Hope that after this terrible disaster, life could go on and their families’ lives could be rebuilt.

If you’re already a DEC supporter, thank you so much for your ongoing support. We hope we won’t have to ask for it again in 2020, but if we do, we know you’ll be there, ready to help people affected by disasters once again. Thank you.

If you’re not, please join our mailing list below so that we can alert you when we launch an emergency appeal, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


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Six ways your donations are helping people affected by Cyclone Idai

Here are some of the ways the £41 million raised by the DEC's appeal is helping families whose lives were devastated by Cyclone Idai.

Here are some of the ways the £41 million raised by the DEC's appeal is helping people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe whose lives were devastated by Cyclone Idai.

People carry tools and shelter materials after a distribution near Tica, Mozambique, three months after Cyclone Idai. Image: Peter Caton/DEC

In March, Cyclone Idai tore through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, killing over 900 people and destroying roads, bridges and buildings. Around three million people were left in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Many people lost their homes, livelihoods and all their possessions and are now living in resettlement camps.

The DEC’s Cyclone Idai appeal which has raised £41 million to date, including £4 million in Aid Match from the UK government, remains open.  The scale of the crisis has been overwhelming but work to rebuild lives is well underway. Here are some of the ways your donations are helping people in the first six months of the response.

1. By providing food

People collect food aid at a distribution run by Islamic Relief in Malawi. Image: Islamic Relief

Following Cyclone Idai many people were trapped in treetops for days, with nothing to eat except rotten mangoes, while floodwaters swept away their homes and crops, right before harvest time. Immediate needs have mostly been met, but aid agencies are still struggling to reach and provide for everyone affected.

The World Food Programme has warned that almost two million people are facing hunger in Mozambique this year, largely due to food shortages caused by the cyclone and flooding. DEC charities plan to assist 40,500 people with rice, cooking oil, maize flour and beans, while families work to plant seeds and grow food for the future.

2. By providing clean water

Tamara carries water from a waterpoint installed by World Vision near her house in Buzi, Mozambique which was completely flooded after the cyclone. Image: Peter Caton/DEC

Providing enough clean drinking water for the millions affected by the disaster has been a major priority. Strong winds and flooding destroyed water facilities and pools of stagnant water were created, resulting in a high risk of a cholera epidemic, particularly in Mozambique. Fortunately, as a result of a national cholera vaccination programme and efforts by international organisations to repair and provide water facilities and mobilise health education, the risk of cholera has been reduced to pre-cyclone levels.

DEC charities are working to construct 170 water points and provide 87,000 people with access to safe drinking water by supplying water purification tablets, water filters, water guards, water treatment kits and chlorine.

In Buzi, Mozambique, the only source of water after the cyclone was the river which carried water-borne diseases and is inhabited by crocodiles. Now people like Tamara (above) use a waterpoint installed by World Vision which filters river water to make it safe to drink.

3. By providing shelter, household items and latrines

Emergency shelter kits are unloaded from a truck near Beira, Mozambique, following Cyclone Idai. Image: Josh Estey/CARE

Across the three countries 185,000 people have been displaced, having lost their homes and all their possessions in the cyclone and the floodwaters that followed. In Mozambique alone, 80,500 people are living in 63 resettlement camps, built on higher ground.

Plans to support people in the camps, and beyond, include supplying 9,700 families with emergency shelter materials or vouchers for similar items and 22,200 families with household essentials such as blankets, mattresses and kitchen utensils. In some camps, DEC charities are constructing latrines on each family's plot of land. In total, they are aiming to construct and rehabilitate 1,700 latrines, including some especially adapted for people with disabilities.

4. By providing safe and learning spaces

Children attend a Child-Friendly Space run by World Vision in Buzi, Mozambique following Cyclone Idai. Image: Peter Caton/DEC

In most responses to disasters, DEC charities and their partners run safe spaces for vulnerable groups such as women and children where they can be protected, receive special support and spend time with peers. Plans are to establish 59 safe spaces for women and children, as well as 14 learning spaces to help children continue their education. Training is to be provided for 320 aid workers in Humanitarian Inclusion Standards, to ensure that older people and people with disabilities are given appropriate aid and that their special needs following the disaster are met.

"After the cyclone, children were stressed and traumatised," explains Simeao Malate, a child protection officer for World Vision who oversees Child Friendly Spaces in Mozambique. "This kind of work helps children recover, and it helps them to be prepared for another cyclone if one comes."

5. By providing livelihoods support

Luisa uses tools received from CAFOD to prepare her field for replanting. She spent four days in the treetops when floodwaters swept away her village. Image: Peter Caton/DEC

Cyclone Idai struck just before harvest time and caused widespread flooding which ruined crops across the region right before harvest time. A big focus now is to rebuild people's livelihoods to help make them independent again, with plans are to supply 22,700 families with tools, fast-growing seeds, distribute chickens and train people in chicken rearing. A cash grant scheme aims to help 11,700 families meet their immediate needs. 

Luisa, pictured above, spent four days in the treetops as floodwaters swept away her village and all her possessions. "Everything was gone: blankets, plates, the house," she says. "It was all carried away by the water, so we didn’t even had anything to cover ourselves." She received tools from DEC member CAFOD and plans to use them to replant her field and dig a well to keep her crops watered.

6. By providing health care

Alberto*, eight months, is examined at a Save the Children mobile health clinic in Mozambique. Image: Peter Caton/DEC

Work to restore clinics and health facilities destroyed by the cyclone is vital; DEC charities plan to rehabilitate 29 health facilities in the first six months, with 20 to receive cholera treatment kits and 10,500 people to receive treatment for malnutrition. With many people now living out of the cities and in remote locations, mobile health clinics are an important way to deliver healthcare to children and their families. 

"It’s important for the clinic to be mobile so that we can help people," says Ana Paula Namalela, a nurse with Save the Children. "When people are sick, it’s really hard for them to get to the hospital."

"Right now, we are also getting a lot of skin complaints. There’s a lot of malaria and flu is constant as well," she added.

Aid workers from DEC charities and their partners are working hard to ensure that people who lost their homes, possessions and livelihoods in Cyclone Idai and the flooding that followed can rebuild their lives, but with thousands still living in tents and Mozambique facing food shortages, there is much more to do.

Our appeal is now closed, but you can find a list of our member charities with open appeals here. You can find our Cyclone Idai Appeal Six-Month Report here.


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Archie's 'Beat the Beast' Challenge

Archie Douglas was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour five years ago, but has since raised an incredible £6,372 for the DEC.


One of the DEC’s most inspiring fundraisers is Archie Douglas who was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour five years ago. Archie has now raised a fantastic £6,370 to support the Disasters Emergency Committee’s (DEC’s) work to provide life-saving relief for crisis-affected communities.

Archie Douglas, from Edinburgh, who has twice served in Afghanistan with the Royal Regiment of Scotland, has made a remarkable recovery with the help of pioneering surgery and aggressive radio- and chemotherapy, but the neurological side effects mean he is currently unable to work. 

Instead, he is putting all his efforts into his ‘Beat the Beast Challenge’ combining a strict balanced daily lifestyle along with walking, learning to act, sing and play golf to raise funds for the DEC. 

The Beat the Beast Challenge in numbers (as of July 2019):

  • 2,288 golf balls played
  • 7,742.92 miles covered under his own steam
  • 417,548 ft height climbed
  • 48 months survived
  • £6,372.16 raised for the DEC

In October 2018, Archie walked across Scotland to support the DEC’s appeal for the survivors of the tsunami in Indonesia. Archie set off from Bowling on the Clyde in West Dunbartonshire and walked the length of the Forth/Clyde and Union Canals, arriving in Edinburgh three days later, having walked a total distance of 63 miles.

Archie fundraising for the Cyclone Idai Appeal in Glasgow.

Along the way Archie talked to as many people as possible to tell them about the work of the DEC and, of course, encourage people to walk with him and support the Indonesia Tsunami Appeal. 

“Learning to act, sing, and play golf and to see my slow and steady neurological improvements gives me hope for a future in work," says Archie. "Fundraising for the Disasters Emergency Committee to help save the lives and improve the life chances of thousands of people in communities ravaged by disaster gives me a purpose.” 

Archie started his fundraising in August 2017 soon after the DEC launched the Emergency Appeal for People Feeling Myanmar. He has contributed to the Cyclone Idai Appeal as well as the Indonesian Tsunami Appeal.

“Please challenge me to beat my beast of neurological dysfunction and to prevent my brain tumour from ever returning by sponsoring me for just £1 per month," says Archie. "I guarantee you that every single penny raised goes to the Disasters Emergency Committee.”

If you'd like to fundraise for the DEC, download our latest fundraising pack here, or follow us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram to help respond when the next disaster strikes.



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Natasha Kaplinsky: How makeshift school tents are rebuilding hope in Mozambique


Broadcaster and Save the Children ambassador Natasha Kaplinsky on the threat facing children in Mozambique following Cyclone Idai, and why education is the key to recovery.

Natasha Kaplinsky with children taking part in a nutrition support group in Mozambique in 2012. Image: Sebastian Rich

Seven years ago I had the opportunity to witness Save the Children projects in Mozambique and I still remember the hope in children’s faces.

Now, just over two weeks since Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, the reality of the devastation is becoming apparent and that spark seems all but extinguished.

The UN estimates that 1.5 million of those affected across the three countries are children. Sadly one of the issues that aid workers are having to confront is protecting the most vulnerable young people, from direct exploitation by others and from harmful coping strategies that they are using to survive.

This might be coming with the best of motives – a single mother with five children allowing her 15-year-old daughter to be married to an older man, so there is one less mouth to feed, or asking her 12-year-old son to do manual labour to earn a few coins.

Lone children who have been separated from their families or even worse orphaned, are at risk of doing anything to survive, accepting money for sexual favours. They will be easy prey for sexual slavery traffickers, picked off by shady networks taking advantage of the chaos in the country.

These are not overblown concerns. Mozambique is one of the top 10 countries for child marriage – currently 48% of girls get married before the age of 18.

It is already seen as a social norm. This disaster can only increase those numbers. We have seen that after natural disasters these practices increase, as happened four years ago when the El Nino-induced drought affected the country.

Natasha Kaplinsky helps Zainabo Tchechere prepare a meal of cassava for the community in Ampivine, Mozambique in 2012. Image: Sebastian Rich

According to US Government statistics released last year, Mozambique is both a source and transit ground for men, women and children trafficked into forced labour and sexual slavery. It’s a high risk area.

At the moment in Mozambique, where 1 million children are in desperate need of assistance, we don’t have figures on how many are unaccompanied and alone.

Anecdotal reports suggest that there are more than 100 unaccompanied children in one group near Estaquinha and a further 80 together in Kopa township, half being put up in a school, the remainder with local people.

DEC member charities, such as Save the Children and World Vision, are prioritising their work with young people and single mothers with large families.

That includes providing more private, single sex shelters so they are not forced to share sleeping and living areas with men they do not know to reduce the risk of sexual violence; separate latrines and washing facilities for women and girls, and headlights to get them there safely in the dark.

Separately there is vital work going on to normalise life for children, which has a huge impact on the whole community.

Children play in a school hall badly damaged by Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique. Image: Karel Prinsloo

In Mozambique, some 3,300 schools have been destroyed, which means that more than 151,000 students no longer have a school to go to.

And many schools are being used as shelter for people who have been displaced. So education has been entirely disrupted.

Save the Children and World Vision have been identifying high risk areas and setting up temporary learning spaces in camps – small tents to carry out lessons for all age ranges of children.

Humanitarian workers have found that the presence of these mini-schools helps the whole community as a symbol of normal life resuming, aiding further recovery. Normalising life is fundamental – it grounds everyone.

We also need more child safe spaces to reduce the risk of kidnap and exploitation. Here, children in friendly groups can be taught about their rights, and that certain behaviour by adults is never acceptable, and what they can and should do if they fear it is happening, to help with early detection and prevention of abuse.

With all of these measures, the healing process can begin. These children can learn to be children once again - and that hope I saw in 2012 can be regained.

Please donate to the Cyclone Idai Appeal by clicking here.

Natasha Kaplinsky is one of the UK's best-known broadcasters. An ambassador for Save the Children since 2010, she has campaigned tirelessly for their causes, visiting Save the Children’s programmes around the world, including in India, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Jordan and in 2012 Mozambique.



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Trapped, hungry, homeless but resilient - six lives devastated by Cyclone Idai


Cyclone Idai swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe killing at least 960 people and leaving 3 million in need of humanitarian assistance. The terrifying storm reached wind speeds of 177 km/h (110 mph) and flooding ripped apart roads, bridges, houses, schools and health facilities and created an inland lake more than twice the size of Greater Manchester.

Here are just some of the stories of people affected by the cyclone.


Rosa spent five days trapped in a tree with her husband and their five children

Rosa holds her son, John, who has a high fever as he is screened for malaria in Dondo, Mozambique. Image: Karel Prinsloo/DEC

“My name is Rosa, I do not know my age. I am here with my son and he is almost two. I live in Thika. We live in a traditional house made from grass and wood.”

Rosa escaped the flood waters that destroyed her home by climbing a tree. The flood waters had nowhere to go and Rosa and her husband along with their five children were trapped in the tree for five days.

“Now we are living in a camp in Thika. Three of the children are in Beira with family. When we were in the tree we did not eat anything, but one day a helicopter came to help us. They tried to take the kids but it was difficult so they threw us some biscuits. For drinking water we were catching the rainwater.”

Rosa is pictured holding her son, John, who was suffering from a high fever and was tested for malaria. John did not have malaria and was given some medication to bring down his temperature. DEC charities are working to bring much needed aid to people affected by Cyclone Idai, including essential medical assistance, but more is needed.

“I am asking help to have a house and some clothes. I have no clothes. We need blankets and a proper place to live.”


Clara is worried about providing for her family after Cyclone Idai destroyed her livelihood

Clara holds her son as she walks through standing water near her house in Beira City, Mozambique. Image: Karel Prinsloo/DEC

Clara is pictured here wading through the water near her flooded and badly damaged home in Beira, Mozambique. A single mother of five children, she is worried about how to rebuild her life following the cyclone.

"I woke up and the wind was blowing. I ran outside with my children. I have five children. My husband died a long time ago. We sought shelter. How will I live now? I used to sell bananas from a tree of mine. It is all gone. Who will help me now?”

Louis and Isabelle are worried about their relatives, who they haven’t heard from since the cyclone hit

Louis and Isabelle wait for news near the Beira port, Image: Corrie Butler/British Red Cross

Louis and Isabelle are pictured here with their four month old son, Cefas. Isabelle’s family lives in Buzi and she has not heard from them since the cyclone hit. Louis said: "We are very worried - Isabelle is very worried. But we are grateful that we are safe."

Like almost every building in Beria, their home was damaged in the cyclone. "The most valuable thing I lost was my books," said Louis, a student at the local university.

Shaud and her family lost their only source of income in the floods

Shaud stands in a field devastated by the cyclone. Image: Philip Hatcher-Moore/Oxfam

Shaud is pictured here standing among her destroyed crop field beside her home, a village 80km from Chimanimani in Zimbabwe. Her entire crop was destroyed just ahead of harvest time, while the flood also washed away most of her belongings.

Shaud escaped the storm with her four children and a few essentials (including their passports, birth certificates and a few blankets). They stayed with a neighbour for a week, whilst the water subsided. When they returned to their home, they were shocked by the level of destruction. Shaud said: "We lost everything. I have lost all hope. We don't know where to begin to fix all this."

As a mudslide approached her home, Lisper was forced to make a heart breaking decision

Lisper stands with her daughter Levette, who was rescued from a tree after being swept away by flood waters. Image: KB Mpofu/Christian Aid

Lisper was standing on her verandah with her children and some other local families near Chimanimani in Zimbabwe. The storm had been raging around them for some time, but then the water changed course and a mudslide headed straight for them.

"After a few moments of watching the mudslide approach, I decided that me and my kids should run," said Lisper. "I put the little baby on my back, and held the other two by hands.” 

“A few minutes later, I heard my eldest daughter (Levette) call out my name. She wanted my help. At that moment I had to make a quick decision, whether to go help her and risk losing the other three, or look after the other three and let her go. I chose to save the lives of the other three, it wasn't an easy decision.” 

“She called me five times. After those five times, she was gone. The water swept her away.”

“In the morning, I saw my husband come looking for us. My husband came bearing the good news that Levette had been found, she was rescued by a young man called Vincent. He took her down from the tree.”

After four days, Levette received medical treatment and is recovering. But Lisper and the family are still traumatised. "Most of those people that I was with on my veranda are gone," she said. "That haunts me. Everyday.”


Fraction and his grandson George have returned to their village to start rebuilding

Fraction and George stand amid their damaged crops after returning to their village. Image: Gavin Douglas/Concern Worldwide

Fraction and his grandson George have come back to their village and start repairing some of the damage done by Cyclone Idai after their family was evacuated to the nearest displacement camp.

"We managed to rescue some clothes and kitchen utensils but everything else has been washed away," said Fraction. Now, they must wait for the flood waters to recede before they can begin farming the land again.


Cyclone Idai is possibly the worst weather-related disaster to ever hit the southern hemisphere. The effects will be felt for some time across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. The most immediate needs are emergency shelter, food, clean water and medical assistance. This aid is already getting through, but more is still needed.

In addition to answering the most urgent needs of people affected by the disaster, DEC charities will provide longer term aid to help people rebuild. For example a Red Cross field hospital has been set up in Beira to provide medical and surgical interventions, as well as inpatient and outpatient care to 30,000 people. Psychosocial support services will also be provided to communities.

Save the Children will provide Child Friendly Spaces for children and families who have lost their homes, alongside health and education services. Oxfam will be providing seeds and livestock to help people recover their livelihoods.

As people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe begin to rebuild their lives, you can help. Donate to our appeal today.

You can see an interactive timeline of the cyclone and DEC charities response here.


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DEC aid agencies rush to respond as cholera cases jump from five to 138 in Mozambique

  • Mozambique’s government confirms increase from five to 138 cholera cases 
  • Aid agencies working round the clock to deliver clean water, safe handwashing facilities and toilets to prevent cholera deaths 
  • DEC Cyclone Idai Appeal raises £23 million so far (including £4 million UK Aid Match), but more help urgently needed 
  • B roll footage available here 

Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) member agencies are setting up emergency toilets, clean water supplies and washing areas as Mozambique’s government confirms the number of cholera cases has increased to 138.  

Government officials confirmed today [Friday 29 March] 138 cases across two neighbourhoods of Mozambique’s port city of Beira.  

Monica Blagescu, DEC’s Director of Programmes and Accountability, said: 

“The flood waters may be receding but cyclone survivors are now facing the secondary threat of disease. We have heard of people drinking stagnant water from street puddles, which could be contaminated, and one shelter is home to 3,000 people with just six toilets. People are exhausted, hungry and more susceptible to infection, and lack of proper sanitation likely to only compound the risk that they face. Aid agencies are expanding their operations but there is an urgent need to get clean water, handwashing facilities and latrines to people in affected areas to prevent cholera and other water-borne diseases from spreading.” 

Oxfam’s aid workers in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe say that bore holes and water systems have been destroyed by floods. In Mozambique, there are reports of 10 families sharing single tents, creating cramped conditions which can increase the risk of cholera outbreaks. 

Oxfam is trucking clean water to areas affected by the cyclone, and is sending an additional 38 tonnes of equipment chartered directly to Beira from the UK, which will include over a thousand latrine slabs to build emergency toilets, more than 20 water bladder tanks, 10,000 jerry buckets, three desludging pumps with generators, and over a hundred tap stands. 

A British Red Cross team have arrived in Beira, Mozambique with equipment to provide sanitation for 20,000 people. The Red Cross field hospital recently set up in Beira has treatment ready for cholera and acute watery diarrhoea. Mozambique Red Cross volunteers, who are trained in cholera management and have experience from previous outbreaks, are distributing supplies of household water treatment, one of the most effective ways to prevent cholera.  

Tearfund, Action Aid, Plan International and Christian Aid are among the charities providing water purification tablets.   

Luke Tredget, British Red Cross Disaster Response Coordinator said: 

“Cholera is easily preventable in normal circumstances, but in the wake of the cyclone, thousands of people are living in temporary shelters, and water supplies are at greater risk of contamination from sewage. The British public are incredibly generous and demonstrating their compassion by donating to the DEC appeal. But more is needed, because the scale of the problem is so vast, stretching across three countries. Families need clean water, toilets and handwashing facilities to survive. And they need them now.” 


For media enquires contact:   020 7387 0200 or 07930 999 014 (out of hours)   

Donations can be made at or by calling 0370 60 60 610  

** Spokespeople, recent photos and footage are available **  


Notes to editors: 

Six facts about cholera: 

  1. It causes acute diarrhoea, which can kill within hours. 
  2. It is caused by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with Vibrio cholera, bacteria found in faeces. 
  3. There are up to 4 million cases of cholera each year and up to 143,000 deaths (World Health Organisation statistic). 
  4. Provision of safe water and sanitation is essential to control the transmission of cholera. 
  5. Eighty per cent of cases can be treated with oral rehydration solution. More severe cases need rapid treatment with IV drips and antibiotics. 
  6. It tends to affect the world’s poorest people. There was an outbreak of cholera in Zimbabwe in 2018. 
  • Media enquiries please call 020 7387 0200 or 07930 999 014 (out of hours). 
  • UK Aid Match enquiries should be directed to the Department for International Development. Please call 0207 023 0600 (24 hour). 
  • At times of very great need, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) brings together a unique alliance of the UK’s leading aid agencies and broadcasters to maximise fundraising and quickly deliver effective emergency relief. The DEC brings together 14 major UK aid agencies: Action Against Hunger, Action Aid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide UK, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam GB, Plan International UK, Save the Children UK, Tearfund and World Vision UK. 
  • Through UK Aid Match the Department for International Development gives the British public the opportunity to decide how the UK aid budget is spent and support people in desperate need in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe by matching their donations pound-for-pound up to £4 million. UK Aid Match has increased the impact of a number of DEC appeals to help those in need around the world, including most recently to support people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia in 2018. 
  • To make a postal donation make cheques payable to ‘DEC Cyclone Idai Appeal’ and mail to ‘PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA’.  
  • Donations can be made at any high street bank and at Post Office counters. 
  • To donate £5 text SUPPORT to 70000. Texts cost £5 and the whole £5 goes to the DEC CYCLONE IDAI APPEAL. You must be 16 or over and please ask the bill payer's permission. For full terms and conditions and more information go to  
    • £30 can provide blankets to keep two families warm. 
    • £50 could provide a family with food for one month. 
    • £100 could help build toilet and washing facilities for families who lost their homes. 


Cyclone Idai: 'Families are living in the husks of what is left'

Claire Rogers, CEO of World Vision Australia, reports from Beira, Mozambique, where Cyclone Idai destroyed as much as 90% of the city.

Claire Rogers, CEO of World Vision Australia, was in Beira, Mozambique, where Cyclone Idai destroyed as much as 90% of the city.

World Vision Australia’s CEO Claire Rogers in Beira, Mozambique which has been devastated by Cyclone Idai. Image: Paco Anselmi/World Vision

Littered with broken trees and damaged buildings, the Mozambican city of Beira looks like a war zone – but it’s a testament to its citizens that the clean up after Cyclone Idai has begun.

When I first arrived, it felt like some sort of beast had been on a rampage. In fact, on the flight into the disaster zone an evacuee returning to the city described the demonic noises he experienced as the wind tried to rip the doors and shutters off the house. It made a chilling entry to Beira.

Children, who should be in school, have been helping to shift the detritus that lies among the ripped down telephone and power poles. This catastrophe has killed hundreds of people and displaced tens of thousands across southern Africa. The final death toll is likely to climb.

Without an urgent improvement in the sanitary conditions it is only a matter of time before water-borne diseases spread, potentially killing more children. The biggest concern is for an outbreak of cholera, which is caused when faecal matter corrupts the drinking water. It’s deadly and spreads easily in crowded situations like displacement camps. Cases have already been confirmed in Beira. Malaria is also a real risk as mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water and multiply. Malaria is already endemic. With health centres and hospitals damaged, a second humanitarian catastrophe of sickness and death is a real risk.

People walk down a damaged street in a residential area of Beira, Mozambique after Cyclone Idai hit the city. Image: Josh Estey/CARE.

Despite the threats, people are doing what they can to clean up, often with limited access to building materials which the poorest cannot afford. Chainsaws can be heard all around, and in the poorer shanty areas survivors are taking the ruined debris of their buildings and using what they can rescue to make repairs.  But it is going to take months to fix the health centres, hospitals and schools that have been torn apart. Families live in the husks of what is left.

I visited one city school where hundreds of people – largely women and children – were sheltering having been displaced. They were crammed into four or five classrooms, sharing just a few toilets. It’s a very difficult place for a family to feel safe.

Aid organisations and the UN are ramping up the delivery of assistance with cargo planes bringing aid from international warehouses, the capital Maputo and elsewhere. Ships are also moving goods into Beira port. The international aid effort is in full swing. The big drive now is to feed the aid out into the urban and rural communities where people have been patiently waiting for support.

Up until now helicopters have been delivering packs of high-energy biscuits to families in remote and broken settlements. Now that the roads have reopened and the floodwaters have gone down, aid is able to reach remote communities at a much larger scale.

As often happens, these crises push the very poorest into absolute poverty and break any chance they might have had of escaping it. The cyclone and floods destroyed the crops that poor communities hoped would feed them through the next few months. The aid community is going to have to support thousands of families to get them through this difficult time, and provide the financial or agricultural assistance to allow them to buy seeds and re-plant.

World Vision and so many other agencies are working around the clock to ensure that we reach those affected by the devastating cyclone and floods, and to prevent a second health-related humanitarian crisis.

If we don’t act now, more people will die and children will lose their chance to get back on their feet. 

World Vision is among 14 organisations that have launched a joint appeal under the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC), which brings together leading aid agencies at times of crisis overseas. If you wish to donate, please click here. 

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