Personal commentary

03.04.2019 Supporting those affected by Cyclone Idai

Rubble from Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe ©ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP
An elderly man walks through damage towards St Thomas Catholic Church where dozens of families are sheltered and receive food, in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe on March 19, 2019, after the area was hit by the Cyclone Idai. ©ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP

I’m at Brussels airport ready to take off to Zimbabwe. The country has been hit by Cyclone Idai, a terrible tropical cyclone that—after passing through Mozambique—went through Zimbabwe and Malawi, devastating these three countries and affecting a total of more than 2.5 million people. 

As every trip has taught me, each emergency response is different and you need to be able to adapt yourself quickly to a different context that is difficult to predict before you are there. Every time is a mix of feelings that make me proud of what I’m doing and happy to be able to contribute to supporting people affected by a crisis, left in a terrible situation. 

I’ll arrive tomorrow in the capital, Harare—luckily not hit by the heavy wind and rain. But, I’ll move quickly to the south east of the country, just next to the border with Mozambique where the roads are still inaccessible, health facilities washed away and the livelihoods of more than 250,000 people have been completely destroyed. Many people lost everything, family members, houses, all that they had.

Thinking about that makes me want to be there already, to start working with my CBM colleagues, local partners, and other humanitarian actors to make sure relief can be brought to those who are now suffering. 

CBM is already working since the day after the cyclone hit with a partner organisation to identify what are the most affected districts and most at-risk people to start the distribution of food and start providing health and rehabilitation services.   

I’m proud to work with this organisation, implementing an inclusive humanitarian response supporting the most affected and marginalised people without forgetting those people with disability who are often left behind. We are also working closely with other agencies, advocating to ensure their services are equally accessible and aiming to ensure that all humanitarian aid is inclusive. 

My flight leaves soon; I look forward to making a difference.

Submitted by Alberto Tonon, CBM.

Alberto Tonon, Emergency Response Officer from CBM