‘Cry with those who cry!’ (Romans 12:15)
USPG is sending emergency funds to support the relief work of the Churches in Mozambique, eastern Zimbabwe and Malawi after the impact of Cyclone Idai, a category 3 storm, which struck these nations on Thursday 14 March 2019 after a long period of heavy rains. The devastation is like no other to hit this part of the world and is being described as the worst weather-related disaster in the Southern Hemisphere. The UN have estimated that up to 2 million people have been affected in an area estimated to be as large as the country of Ghana. ‘Cyclone Idai is a disaster exacerbated by climate change; a warmer atmosphere is intensifying rainfall so that in some areas of Mozambique a year’s worth of rainfall fell in just a few days, on already drought-hardened soil. A BBC spokesperson said, “The climate crisis that is driving sea level rises and more extreme rainfall, is making deadly storms, like the one that hit southern Africa more severe.’
The people of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe are resilient and strong. They have weathered many storms before, not just physical or environmental but challenging political regimes, continued ecological injustices, exploitative multinational businesses, mining and extractive industries, the legacy of colonialisms and the ongoing consequences of inequality and inequity in a globalised economic system. Most, if not all, of these challenges have their origins in the actions and policies of the global north, especially the UK. Yet the strength and power of communities in these nations continues in spite of such overwhelming and systemic challenges. None the less they need our help and solidarity – as this storm is unprecedented.
Malawi and Mozambique are low-lying and flooding has especially devastating consequences and those who have survived are in desperate need of food, shelter and clothing. USPG has heard that mortuaries are under water and so bodies cannot even be held safely or buried, adding to trauma and health hazards. Other health consequences of flooding are predicted to rise including incidences of cholera, dysentery, typhoid and malaria. Already costs of medicines and equipment are rising as they have to be flown in due to impassable roads. After continued drought and rising fuel costs, heavy rains are taking an enormous toll including on Chimanimani District in Zimbabwe.
Churches in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique have all been affected. Bishop Carlos Matsinhe, of the Diocese of Lebombo (Church in Mozambique, Anglican Church of Southern Africa) said USPG: “When Cyclone Idai hit the provinces of Sofala, Manica it caused dreadful disaster situation to the city of Beira. The number of people who died is rising. The city is flooded and cut off and we have no communication. Survivors have no food or clean water. The government and several institutions are working hard to rescue survivors and settle them elsewhere. It is a [tragic] emergency. Personally I have not been able to have news of our Priest in Beira not of any member of the church. I am flying to Beira not knowing how to reach our people or at least the church premises.”
The Churches and governments in the nations themselves and across Africa are responding. The Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) is enabling churches in Africa to respond in a coordinated way. The Archbishop of Southern Africa , Thabo Makgoba has released an appeal on behalf of the Province. The Anglican Church of Tanzania has responded through CAPA. Churches around the Communion are offering solidarity and support to the suffering communities.
USPG is a long-standing partner of these churches and is supporting their response as they seek to bring relief to suffering people and communities.
Bishop Carlos Matsinhe, of the Diocese of Lebombo (Church in Mozambique, Anglican Church of Southern Africa) shared “Now we need to help supply food and other primary necessity items. We are going to ask The National Committee for Emergency to deliver our contributions. I have made a local appeal and people have started putting together their gifts at the Diocesan Center and they will do so at parishes these coming days. Thank you for immediate response. Let’s continue to support our brothers who suffer right now. They lost almost everything! At the Anglican Centre of Chamanculo we have a point of collecting donations.”
Bishop Vicente Msossa, of the Diocese of Niassa (Church in Mozambique, Anglican Church of Southern Africa) says to USPG: ‘In terms of support that USPG can provide, it will depend, people are homeless, without food, without basic things to live on , so whatever [is] around this is welcome. And if USPG could not take long, [we] would greatly appreciate, at times support takes too long to get to the people. We are also thinking of providing kinds of seeds that they can grow now, like cassava, sweet potatoes’
USPG is sending emergency support from our Rapid Response Fund. Your donations to this fund enable us to support church relief work in times of emergency. Please consider giving.
A prayer for those caught up in this devastating storm:
Lord of the storm,
to all who live beside dangerous seas
and on the banks of unpredictable rivers,
grant peace of mind
and the assurance of your presence
in each and every circumstance that may befall them.
The Little Handmaids of Christ. Christa Sevika Sangha, Church of Bangladesh