Concern responding to worsening locust crisis
Concern Worldwide is responding to a new wave of vast locust swarms in East Africa that could hit food supplies for 43 million people this summer.
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Concern Worldwide is expanding its emergency response to Cyclone Idai into Mozambique, after its assessment team on the ground visited rural communities without food or shelter, who are now surviving in dire circumstances.
Concern Worldwide is focusing its work on the town of Nhamatanda, 100 kilometres north west of Beira, which was directly in the path of the cyclone. The assessment teams spent much of the last week visiting outlying villages.
“The story is the same wherever we went – people have lost their homes, their crops are destroyed and they are very hungry,” Concern’s Kieran McConville said.
“They are waiting for people to help them but most of the help to date has been paltry.”
“I met a mother of four young children who is feeding her family with rotten maize she salvaged from the surrounding fields,” he said.
“Another farmer, with seven children, said we were the first assistance to arrive in his village. He told me: ‘I am very sad, but I am also angry. My family are starving, they are crying.’”
Mr McConville said he saw mile after mile of fields where the crops were flattened and destroyed. “These had been submerged by the flood waters but now the waters are beginning to recede and the crops have rotted,” he said.
Concern Worldwide will fly in emergency supplies to support 25,000 people this week. The emergency kits will include tarpaulin, blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and cooking utensils.
“Access is only opening up now as the waters recede and in the next week or two a massive relief operation will get underway,” Concern Worldwide’s Head of Emergency Operations Ros O’Sullivan said.
“With 85 per cent humidity, temperatures of 30 to 35 degrees Celsius and huge amounts of water lying on the ground there is a major risk of Malaria and water-borne disease. We will be working to provide hygiene kits and water purification systems.”
As the flood waters subside, Concern Worldwide will also distribute seeds and tools to enable farmers plant a winter crop within the next month.
“This is the secondary planting season – the crops which have been destroyed were the main crop of the year. But if they miss this opportunity to plant, another much greater catastrophe will unfold as they will have no food for the rest of the year,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
Seed supplies will be accompanied by food rations for farmers so they will have sufficient food while waiting for their crops to mature.
Concern Worldwide is working alongside partners German NGO Welthungerhilfe and Italian partners Cesvi.
The expansion of Concern Worldwide’s emergency operation into Mozambique comes as it continues its work with flood victims in neighbouring Malawi where up to 800,000 people have been affected and almost 90,000 people are displaced.
Emergency supplies of plastic sheeting, cooking utensils, mosquito nets and soap arrived this week in Nsanje – one of the worst affected areas where entire villages are still submerged by flood waters.
Concern Worldwide is also working to provide additional toilets and bathrooms at a number of temporary centres for displaced people, amid fears that the current inadequate hygiene facilities will result in the spread of water-borne disease such as Cholera and diarrhoea.
Concern Worldwide Chief Executive Dominic MacSorely today renewed his appeal to the public to support its Cyclone Idai appeal.
“We are deeply grateful to everyone who has supported the appeal to date but we urgently need to raise funds to support people in Mozambique and Malawi who are in desperate need in the wake of the cyclone.”
To donate to the Cyclone Idai appeal visit Concern's website.
For more information contact Eamon Timmins, Media Relations Manager, at 087 9880524, or Kevin Jenkinson, Communications Officer, at 086 3582886