Thousands of people are waiting for help in the flooded regions of Southeast Africa. Due to continued rain, the situation could get worse. A conversation with emergency helper Jennifer Bose.
The consequences of the tropical cyclone "Idai" are devastating: 1.5 million people are affected by the destruction of the cyclone and the enormous floods, according to the international aid organization CARE in the countries of Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The United Nations reports that so far 550 people have died.
Especially bad is the situation in Beira, a coastal city in Mozambique, where half a million people live. "90 percent of the city is destroyed," says Jennifer Bose. The 31-year-old is one of the 70 emergency helpers of CARE in Mozambique. On Friday morning she landed in the capital Maputo and on the way to Beira.
SZ: Mrs Bose, have you been able to get an idea of the situation on the ground?
Jennifer Bose: The people here have lost just about everything you can imagine. So all their belongings, within minutes and hours. Since the beginning of the relief work, I have been in contact with our relief team. A colleague who arrived in front of me reported about 5,000 people he had seen off the plane waiting to be rescued on a roof in the flood waters.
What tasks are coming to you now?
We coordinate with other aid agencies and try to get those who have not yet been rescued from the flooded areas out of there. CARE has 13 trucks that we use to distribute tents and construction materials for the shelters. In addition, we provide people with hygiene products, mosquito nets and, most importantly, drinking water cans.
How difficult is your assignment?
We are struggling with a big logistical challenge. There are boats, helicopters and SUVs in use here. Unfortunately, the flooded areas are very difficult to access, almost all roads are closed. In Beira there is only electricity and internet at the airport.
Do the masses of water go back?
It just does not look that way. It's raining in Beira and it should not stop the next days. There are still flash floods that do not make it easier to reach people at all. The water masses are enormous. You have to imagine it as an inland sea that is suddenly there, where houses used to be and that is 125 kilometers wide. The water is deadly, because it promotes the epidemic danger. Cholera or diarrhea can spread quickly. It's a race against time.
How do you assess the long-term extent of the disaster?
I have been involved in other natural disasters, such as the typhoon "Haiyan" in the Philippines in 2013. The extent of such disasters is only gradually becoming apparent. We do not yet know how many people lost their families. The number of dead or missing varies from hour to hour. We are far from the end of the crisis.
Can you tell how much aid is needed?
Over the next few months, we expect 32 million euros needed in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.