“The water was everywhere, it was above knee-high, and it stayed for one week,” remembered Margaret Chidothi, as the one-year anniversary of Cyclone Idai approaches. During the deadly storm, Margaret and her family of six lost their home and entire livelihood. The cyclone washed away her maize, pigeon peas and sorghum just a month before harvest.

In the aftermath of the storm, it was extremely difficult for Margaret and her husband to find work to provide for their family. With the little they were able to find, it was almost impossible to feed their entire family. In fact, food was often so scarce that Margaret would have to ration the meals for the adults so that the kids would be able to eat more than one meal a day.

The lack of food made it challenging for Margaret to find the energy she needed to rebuild her life. “When it’s only one or two times a day, it’s hard to be productive. I feel it in my knees that I was weak,” she shared.

In response, PWS&D, with support from Canadian Foodgrains Bank, provided emergency food assistance to families like Margaret’s. Her family received a monthly package consisting of maize flour, beans and oil, as well as a nutrient fortified cereal for her children.

Margaret Chidothi and her family stand in front of their home with a portion of their monthly food package. Credit: Canadian Foodgrains Bank/Shaylyn McMahon.

The food packages meant that Margaret’s family was able to eat more than once a day—something they hadn’t been able to do since Idai struck. “When we eat three times a day, we have more energy, we wake up with enough energy to go to the gardens and do work.” An encouraged Margaret is starting to rebuild her life as she said, “we are really happy the project came, it really helped our family.”

One year later…

Many families like Margaret’s are still recovering a year after Cyclone Idai made landfall. Working through coalitions like Canadian Foodgrains Bank and ACT Alliance, PWS&D has provided emergency food assistance, shelter and water and sanitation services.

In southern Malawi, through the Mulanje Mission Hospital, PWS&D helped construct 525 latrines which had been damaged by the storm. Additionally, two homes where orphaned children and their caregivers live were rebuilt.

But recovery after disaster is a long-term process. While immediate projects helped bridge the gap, need still remains. One year later, many people continue to face the long-term effects of the cyclone.

Families were a month away from harvesting their crops when Idai struck, causing most to lose their entire crop and seeds. While the first round of food assistance provided seeds, they will not be ready to harvest for another few months.

Consequently, PWS&D is continuing to provide assistance to combat food insecurity caused by the flooding. Families in Malawi are receiving monthly cash allowances which allow them to purchase the food they need at local markets, also helping to boost the local economy. Female headed households, families with orphans and people with special needs, as well as those living with HIV have been given priority.

In Mozambique, PWS&D is helping to provide water, sanitation and hygiene facilities through ACT Alliance.

Community members gather around a well to access clean drinking water. Credit: ACT Alliance.

When Idai hit, it collapsed latrines and destroyed drinking water facilities, leaving many people without access to clean drinking water or toilets and vulnerable to waterborne illnesses. This project provides water purification services, sanitary napkins for women and diapers for children, and promote proper hygiene.

Thank you!

Thanks to the generosity of Presbyterians across Canada, almost $160,000 was raised to help those affected by the cyclone—after being multiplied up to four times, these funds allowed PWS&D to provide over $800,000 worth of assistance. Without your support, families like Margaret’s would not have the resources or energy to start rebuilding their lives. Because of your compassion, families in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are starting to slowly recover and return to their normal lives.


PWS&D is a member of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies working together to end global hunger. Foodgrains Bank projects are undertaken with support from the Government of Canada.