On March 14, 2019, Cyclone Idai made landfall in southern Africa. High winds and rains left a trail of devastation, impacting almost three million people across Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

When the deadly storm ripped across the region, roads were submerged, houses demolished, and crops and livelihoods destroyed. The cyclone caused over 1,000 deaths and left over 146,000 people without a home.

Responding to Cyclone Idai

Photo: Norwegian Church Aid (NCA)

PWS&D responded through the ACT Alliance and Canadian Foodgrains Bank to support people in Malawi and Mozambique enduring the devastating effects of the storm.

In Malawi, PWS&D supported the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to provide:

  • Emergency food assistance—monthly packages of maize, beans and oil—to 10,000 people
  • Packages of Likuni Phala—a nutrient-rich porridge—to 500 families with children under the age of five with acute malnutrition
  • Vegetable seeds to 800 rural households, allowing farmers to replenish their land and meet food needs

Along with generous Presbyterian contributions, this project was undertaken with funds raised through the Humanitarian Coalition’s Cyclone Idai appeal and with support from the Government of Canada.

Now with working toilets available, 2,600 families in the hardest hit areas of Malawi are looking towards a healthier future.

PWS&D has been working with local partners at the Mulanje Mission Hospital to rebuild 525 latrines that were damaged by rising water levels. The loss of latrines is an urgent health issue because human waste can get into water sources, and killer diseases spread. This project will benefit 2,625 families. In the same region, PWS&D is helping reconstruct two houses for orphans that collapsed in the deluge.

In Mozambique, PWS&D contributed to an ACT Alliance response targeting 29,256 families in cyclone-affected zones, delivering food, safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services, shelter and psychosocial and livelihoods support.

As many schools have been destroyed, PWS&D partners are helping with education infrastructure rehabilitation and support to teachers.

Abrigado cleans bricks he’s using to rebuild a home in the Josina Michelle neighbourhood of Nhamatanda, Mozambique, which was destroyed by Cyclone Idai. Photo: Gregg Brekke/ACT

Learn how your support is assisting families:


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Amelia Tausende’s son, Noel, 12, looks at his school exercise books that were destroyed by the flood water.

“You see that I’m just here, and this is what I have left. I don’t know what to do.”

These are the desperate words of Amelia Tausene, 35, who lives with her three children Noel, 12, Gustavo, 7, and Luis, 2, in Buzi District, Mozambique. They are among the 1.5 million living in Mozambique whose lives were turned upside down when Cyclone Idai pummelled the country.

After the cyclone came through Amelia’s community, water levels rose rapidly, and Amelia and her children had to seek safety on the roof of their home. Stranded, they remained there until a boat came and took them to a temporary shelter.

Most of their home was destroyed by strong winds and rain. Amelia’s maize field—her main source of income—is mostly waterlogged. Now, only a few sodden husks remain. Desperate for food, Amelia and her children have been drying them out to eat.

Amelia shares that they’ve seen floods before, but nothing like this. No storm has taken absolutely everything from her—right down to the seeds she had stored to plant next season.

Noel and Gustavo have been diligent with their homework, but their schoolbooks are now completely damaged after being soaked by flood waters. Parts of their school were also destroyed, and they don’t know when they will be able to go back.

PWS&D is supporting affected families, like Amelia and her children, as they receive urgently needed assistance in the wake of Cyclone Idai. As a result of relief efforts through the ACT Alliance, families are accessing food, safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services, shelter and psychosocial support.

Through membership in Canadian Foodgrains Bank, PWS&D will provide emergency food assistance in Malawi—targeting families who lost their food stores and crops. Food distributions, as well as seeds for the next round of crops, will be provided to families in need.



Read more stories about life-saving relief work through ACT Alliance partners in Mozambique. 

View photos from Cyclone Idai relief efforts.

Respond with us

You can support life-saving assistance by making a donation to PWS&D through your church, mailing a cheque to the office, donating online or calling 1-800-619-7301 x 291. Please mark donations as “Cyclone Idai.”



Banner photo: Marta Manuel heads into her crops to do some hoeing. Like everyone in her village, she lost her crops to Cyclone Idai when 3m of water flooded the plain they live on. They replanted with some seed that survived the storm. PWS&D is supporting ACT members to help people like Marta access vegetable seeds and recover their livelihoods. Photo: Simon Chambers/ACT