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The effects of Cyclone Idai, which swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in March 2019, were still being felt a year later. Idai destroyed crops, ruined lives and left millions without food.

In the immediate aftermath, at least 900 people were killed. Around 2.5 million more – especially those in remote areas – were affected. Our local partners in Zimbabwe and Malawi were able to support them with the emergency food, water, clothing, shelter and medicine supplies they desperately needed.

One year on, communities in Zimbabwe were still struggling. They faced a grave hunger crisis as crop failures, drought and food shortages continued.

Working with our local partners, we've been able to help Idai survivors start to rebuild their lives.

Your donations provided

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Clothing

Christian Aid’s response: 1-year update (March 2020)

One year since Idai, more help is needed as the drought and food shortages continue.

How your donations have helped

With your generous donations, our local partners were on the ground immediately in Zimbabwe to support affected communities with essential supplies:

  • foodstuffs such as maize meal, sugar, dried fish, cooking oil, salt and tea leaves
  • household essentials, from cooking utensils to water storage containers and blankets
  • toiletries and sundries such as soap, toothbrushes, towels, laundry powder and washing buckets

Alongside this essential support, there have been awareness-raising activities on topics such as climate change, hygiene, disaster preparedness, accountability, safeguarding and protection issues. 

The rebuilding continues, but more needs to be done

Work also continues with rebuilding infrastructure and livelihoods, providing agricultural resources and offering psychosocial support. For example: in December 2019, we and our partners MeDRA and Africa Ahead gave 147 new homes to Idai survivors in Zimbabwe’s Chipinge, Buhera and Bikita districts.

All this has helped to ensure families have somewhere safe to live and to start rebuilding their lives.

However, Zimbabwe – and the Southern African region – faces a major hunger crisis.

‘The people of Zimbabwe are struggling’

For the country once known as ‘the bread basket of Africa’, the worst drought in four decades is looming. Many lost their crops and livestock to Idai, with no second planting season on the horizon.

Now heavily reliant on rain-fed agriculture, communities are experiencing repeated failed crops and millions of people left hungry as the country’s vital grain reserves have been wiped out. Nearly 1 in 3 children under five are suffering from malnutrition.
Our Zimbabwe Country Director, Nicholas Shamano, said: ‘The people of Zimbabwe are struggling to find enough to eat, and while climate change and more extreme, and frequent, weather conditions have contributed to high levels of food insecurity, failing infrastructure continues to hinder the nation’s recovery.’

With Zimbabwe now relying on grain imports, and long in need of investment in agriculture, its communities are still in need of humanitarian support in Idai’s long-term wake.

With the help of local and national authorities, much-needed practical support – especially food – is essential for the continued recovery of the affected communities.

Christian Aid’s response: 6-month update


Christian Aid is working through four partner organisations:  AWET (Apostolic Women Empowerment Trust), Padare (Men’s Forum on Gender), Africa Ahead and MeDRA (Methodist Development and Relief Agency) to reach affected communities in the districts of Chipinge, Buhera and Bikita.

  • We have reached 1,350 households with food and non-food items including maize meal, sugar, dried fish, salt, cooking pots, spoons and plates.
  • Communities are being supported to overcome the disaster. The focus is on restoring community and family networks and structures, support for vulnerable groups and gender-based violence awareness.
  • Access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities is a key priority, to mitigate disease outbreaks. We are ensuring that public hygiene education is undertaken in addition to distributing soap and purification for drinking water. Plans are also in place to repair water points and sanitation facilities.
  • We are supporting the fixing and rebuilding of shelters to ensure families have a safe home to live in.


In two of the worst-affected districts in the southern region of Malawi, Nsanje and Chikwawa, our partners Eagles Relief and Development (Eagles) and Churches Action in Relief and Development (CARD) have been focusing on addressing immediate, life-saving needs in their initial response. In these areas 35,818 people were displaced and located in 36 camps.

  • We have distributed unconditional cash to 4,942 households (19,768 people) so that they can meet their needs. Families are using this cash for food and items such as shelter repairs and medication, among others.
  • Due to contaminated water sources we have enabled to 3,751 households to purify their drinking water. We have also distributed soap and sanitary products.
  • We have reached 4,706 people in the most vulnerable groups to support their nutrition.
  • Due to many families losing their crops we have supported families to plants new crops by providing seeds and farming tools.
Image credits and information i
Selena Feleeski lives with her family in Chikwawa, Malawi. She was supported by Christian Aid's disaster response after Cyclone Idai. Credit: Adam Finch / Christian Aid
Selena Feleeski with her child, smiling

Selena Feleeski

The sun was about to set when Selena noticed water coming into her house. And then more water, and then more. She fled with her family to a nearby school and watched as the floods destroyed almost everything she owned.

Thanks to Christian Aid’s emergency response work, Selena received some maize seeds and money to help rebuild her home in the immediate aftermath of the flooding.

Selena knows how important education is, because it’s the opportunity she never had. Orphaned at five years old, she was raised by an uncle until he too died. She had few options left to her. She got married very young and now lives with her husband and six children.

‘I just want the children to have a different life from what I had. My hope for the future is that if they go to school, they will be better off.

Image credits and information i
Margaret is a businesswoman who farms and sells her crops at the local market. She has benefitted from Christian Aid's wosa programme, which trained her in resilience to be better prepared for the potentially devastating effects of climate change. Credit: Adam Finch / Christian Aid
Margaret Nsona and her friends dancing in Chikwawa, Malawi

Margaret Nsona

Before Christian Aid’s partner PROACT came to support her community, Margaret was living a life without hope. But the training she’s received from them has helped her improve the way she farms and enabled her to start a small business. Now she’s bringing in enough money that she can even send her children to school. She says it has empowered her life.

When Cyclone Idai hit, Margaret lost all the crops she had planted, along with many of her possessions. But because of the support she had previously received, she was able to get back on her feet again more quickly. She says, ‘We were trained to be courageous enough not to be shaken by the floods, but to move on and be strong’.

The rains are no longer consistent, and the area she lives in is often hit by both drought and flooding. Now she’s able to practice crop rotation and to diversify what she grows so that she is more resilient to climate change.

‘I’m a witness, climate has changed. Nowadays it’s not the way it used to be when we were children.’

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