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Volunteers prepare to respond to Cyclone Idai

22 March 2019. For immediate release. 

The international development charity, VSO, is working with partners and community volunteers to reach the most affected groups as a result of the damage caused by Cyclone Idai which hit Mozambique,  Malawi and Zimbabwe last week. Cyclone Idai has been described as one of the worst cyclones ever to hit the southern hemisphere and is estimated to have affected over 1.6 million people.   

VSO volunteers and programmes teams have been working within disaster affected communities in Mozambique and Zimbabwe and have witnessed the devastating impact of the typhoon.   

Elizabeth Kisakye, VSO Volunteer Communications Co-ordinator, Mozambique:  

‘’When I look at the country right now, I see people are in a desperate state. Families are hungry and in pain, their hearts are broken. But I also see hope in our volunteers who are ordinary people with a passion of helping their community and country. These volunteers are part of the community and thus best placed to support in rebuilding and healing the wounds caused by this disaster.’’  

Mozambique:  In partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Mozambique National Volunteer Council, VSO has trained a team of 750 volunteers across the country- all Mozambican nationals on disaster management preparedness, which focuses on identifying community-based volunteers who can help affected areas, reduce the impact of disasters and cope with their consequences. Many of these volunteers are already supporting their families, communities and national disaster relief efforts. In the coming days, weeks and months they will be providing critical support to the Government's recovery efforts ensuring the most affected are able to restore their basic livelihood, health and education systems.    

Zimbabwe: VSO works in one of the provinces that’s been badly affected - Masvingo province - and has supported disaster risk reduction interventions in partnership with local government agencies. The typhoon and resulting floods have destroyed food crops, livestock and livelihoods across the province, leaving people badly traumatised. In the coming days and months, a group of skilled partners and volunteers will be working with the community to provide psychosocial support in addition to working with communities to address emerging risks as result of the flooding, and to support communities to restore their basic livelihoods.  

 Philip Goodwin, Chief Executive Officer of VSO, said:    

“Cyclone Idai is a massive disaster that has affected millions of people. In situations like this ordinary people are often the first responders in their communities. They are there on the ground when disaster hits, and they know the people most affected and how to reach them. That’s why we’ve trained hundreds of volunteers to support the most vulnerable groups within their communities in the coming weeks and months. We are confident that the volunteers will undertake useful and effective work and coordinate closely with the existing humanitarian aid system to get help to where it’s most needed.”   

The need for emergency aid in Mozambique and Zimbabwe remains acute. Rising flood waters are predicted over the next few days and many people are still at risk. Schools, hospitals and other facilities have been seriously damaged or destroyed.  VSO will be working with partners and mobilising expert volunteers to support the recovery of these services and systems.   

VSO, with the support of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative of the European Union, have also been preparing communities and volunteers to anticipate, prepare for and better respond to future risks in 15 countries including Zimbabwe and Mozambique.  

/Ends   

 

Notes for Editors   

VSO is an international development organisation which uses volunteers to create sustainable change. It works in all three countries affected by Cyclone Idai: Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.    

VSO focuses on 3 thematic areas- Health, livelihoods and education.  

For more information or to arrange an interview, please email Press.Office@vsoint.org

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