HUMANITARIAN agency Islamic Relief has begun distributing emergency food packs to families affected by Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique. Supplied
Cyclone Idai has left more than 1.8 million people facing food shortages and the destruction of more than 715000 hetares of crops will have severe food insecurity implications in the coming months.

This is the grim assessment by an Islamic Relief emergency response team assisting with aid efforts in Maputo and Beira, Mozambique.

With basic amenities such as clean water and electricity seriously lacking, infrastructure like roads and buildings have been badly damaged in the tropical storm.

Provinces such as Sofala, Zambezia, Manica and Tete, which make up the country’s food basket, have suffered grave losses.

Livestock have died, while food and grain stores have been washed away.

A cholera outbreak has resulted in further challenges to the government and aid groups.

Five cholera-related deaths and almost 3000 new cases have been reported. Most of the cases have been reported in Beira, with Dondo, Nhamatanda and Buzi city also registering outbreaks.

To add to these woes, 54 medical facilities have been badly damaged or destroyed, adding to the pressure on an already weak health infrastructure in the central provinces.

We visited the district of Beira, in the central province of Sofala, which bore the brunt of the cyclone’s wrath.

The first area we focused on was Chipangara, a slum located about 4km from the city centre.

The conditions in Chipangara are dire. Houses have been destroyed and people are struggling to find food.

Water and sanitation conditions are extremely poor - which is worsening the risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera spreading, as well as malaria.

We met survivors, including an 11-year-old boy called Bilal, who told us how he and his family had not received any food assistance since a one-off humanitarian distribution was conducted in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone in mid-March.

He recalled that for the first week after the disaster, his family survived on sweet potatoes - only one per person for the entire day.

The conditions in the slum before the cyclone struck were already dismal: 50000 people live there. The impact of the cyclone further worsened conditions for those who were already living in abject poverty.

As humanitarians, we need to step up and do whatever we can to come to the immediate aid of the displaced and the vulnerable affected by Idai.

Meanwhile, in Malawi we are providing food, cash and shelter to thousands of vulnerable families affected by the cyclone.

We are currently working in the Chikwawa district.

We are also partnering with a local agency in Zimbabwe and will focus on the provision of immediate life-saving assistance to those affected by the cyclone.

CAPE TIMES