Cyclone Idai that was experienced for two days in mid-March 2019, caused severe damage and destruction in Mozambique where about 1000 casualties occurred. The disaster that occurred on 14th and 15th March has left thousands of residents with no shelter, outbreak of diseases experienced, electricity supply has been tampered with and a number of connection networks destroyed making difficult to communicate to the international world. Malawi and Zimbabwe were also affected by the cyclone.
Communication systems, electricity supply and roads were severely damaged making it difficult to provide humanitarian help and logistics as the Mozambique government declared a state of emergency. Deutsche Post DHL Group assigned its Disaster Response Team (DRT) to aid in assisting the people at the airport in Beira.
The DRT helps in guiding airport workforce and coordinates incoming aid for Non- governmental organizations (NGOs). The Director for Humanitarian Affairs at Deutsche Post DHL Group, Chris Weeks heads the 1st DRT deployment to Africa and is accompanied by a team of DHL volunteers from the United Arab Emirates, Mozambique and South Africa. The United Nations and other humanitarian organizations have also sent their staff to Beira to offer assistance where many helpers are working on safe strategies for onward transport.
As Chris explains no much aid has come in yet change is expected as the UN has provided USD 20 million for humanitarian help. The DRT is coordinating with the national and international humanitarian aid organizations to provide logistical transport. “In the wake of a natural disaster, logistical coordination of relief supplies is crucial,” says Weeks.
The team will apply disaster management skills and expertise to assist airport personnel to process relief supplies faster for them to reach the victims of the cyclone in time so as to save lives.
About two weeks since the disaster begun Mozambique has been in critical conditions since the rains have not stopped, no drainage of flooded water and the river is still rising. Chris says that the airport in Beira is among the few places in the city that is dry with working infrastructure. Incoming aid such as food, water, tents, fuel, medical supplies and technical equipment comes to the airport where they are sorting and distribution is done in Beira, rural areas and other places affected by the cyclone. It is not possible to estimate the damage and destruction caused. “We will see follow- on effects over the next few days such as outbreak of diseases like malaria, which is fostered by stagnant water and increases the need for medical supplies.” Says Weeks as he adds that his team is on standby to offer assistance.
The Disaster Response Teams (DRTs) are part of the DPDHL group’s GoHelp disaster management program, which has operated in partnership with the United Nations (UN) since 2005. Through this partnership, the Group provides the UN and national disaster management agencies with pro bono access to its core logistics expertise, and the logistics skills of more than 500 specially-trained employee volunteers worldwide who can deploy within 72 hours after a natural disaster.
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