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.