A young girl fetches water at a camp for displaced survivors of Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique. Picture: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

Johannesburg - The South African Council of Churches (SACC), Red Cross Society, Hope Worldwide and other civil society partners have been involved in consolidated and urgent relief efforts to help survivors of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. 

"We are partnering with the churches because this is a disaster that will require the highest level of mobilisation possible, and churches have that footprint and goodwill," Red Cross South Africa CEO, Lindel Papiyah said ahead of a planned media briefing.

Cyclone Idai has wreaked havoc on Beira and surrounding areas of Mozambique, resulting in loss of communication, damage and destruction to shelter and settlements, health and water/sanitation facilities and thousands of hectares of standing crops, communication infrastructure, with loss of life and injury. 

"We know that many more people will die from disease resulting from this tragedy, far more than those lives taken by the cyclone itself. Human lives will need to recalibrate in the new reality, including dealing with hundreds of children orphaned in this disaster," said SACC's Bishop Mpumlwana. 

"This is an urgent but long term joint effort by us as churches and civil society to help our neighbours that will require consistency of commitment." 

Deloitte has joined the partnership, bringing in pro bono audit support to the fund that is being launched.

"We have been looking for civil society partners to respond to this disaster, and are happy to have the partnership with the SACC and faith-based organisations. We shall be calling on all our associates to participate in this noble endeavour," Deloitte CEO, Lwazi Bam said.

The cyclone disaster response group at a press briefing said it is still in shock as a result of the scale of the disaster that has befallen the people of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

"The purpose is to more coherently coordinate the channelling of aid, to avoid causing recipient communities having to go to multiple support options and to have a more orderly phasing of assistance for more effective long term support. Also part of the group is the Evangelical Alliance, the Warehouse, Youth for Christ, A-Better-Africa and ACT Ubumbano," Mpumlwana said

"We request all churches, not only SACC and TEASA member churches, to mobilise their members and congregants and regional structures-presbyteries districts, diocese, etc. to make financial donations to the fund. The money will be used to purchase prescribed goods as needed from the phase in the disaster areas of the three countries and for the administration and the distribution of the goods through approved agencies."

Mpumlwana said the group is part of the disciples of the one who said: "For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in".

The group said the most immediate basic needs include food and potable water to survive; shelter and sanitation for hygiene and disease management. Following the immediate first aid, and in the mid-term, there will be the need to ensure food security, as the crops that were about to be harvested have now been washed away.

"There will be [a] need for rebuilding the lives of people living with missing relatives, some of whose bodies may never be found, the counselling and recalibrating the lives of orphaned children and trauma counselling for those children who may have seen their parents perish in the  floods," Mpumlwana said

"We need the voices of everyone to tell everyone."

African News Agency (ANA)