Cyclone Idai aftermath: Tens of thousands of people 'not yet reached'

The full extent of the damage caused by Cyclone Idai is becoming clearer as flood waters recede in Mozambique, the worst affected country.

On Thursday, a disaster management official put the death toll at 468, taking the combined number of deaths in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi to at least 700.

The Gift of the Givers' head of search, rescue and disaster coordination, Ahmed Bam says the rescue effort has now moved on to disease containment, with reported cholera cases on the rise.

As the water subsides and we reach more communities, the search and rescue effort in the first days have phased out, so now it's more medical concern and basically waterborne diseases are starting now.

Ahmed Bam, Head of search, rescue and disaster coordination - Gift of the Givers

In some of the regions... some cholera cases have been reported, so a huge drive now by the Ministry of Health and the local disaster coordinating centre in Mozambique and the World Health Organisation, is to try and get as much cholera medication out there to contain this.

Ahmed Bam, Head of search, rescue and disaster coordination - Gift of the Givers

As part of preventative measures, water purification is paramount he says.

A Canadian company has partnered with us and one of the ways of prevention is water purification tablets to put into the water... we've been installing water purification facilities...

Ahmed Bam, Head of search, rescue and disaster coordination - Gift of the Givers

With widespread flooding and destruction of infrastructure, disaster teams have to rely on helicopters to reach communities still waiting for assistance.

To give an example, a river which is normally 500 metres to a kilometre, became 50, 60 kilometres wide.

Ahmed Bam, Head of search, rescue and disaster coordination - Gift of the Givers

As the water recedes now, many villages were more accessible. We managed to do quite a lot of medivacs, and medical treatment and get doctors out to villages, as well as getting much needed food supplies to these villages.

Ahmed Bam, Head of search, rescue and disaster coordination - Gift of the Givers

Bam says it's only just becoming clear how many people are still cut off and in need of assistance.

From my rough estimates, there should be about 20-30,000 people that have not yet been reached - small, small villages.

Ahmed Bam, Head of search, rescue and disaster coordination - Gift of the Givers

As the days go by, the death toll just increases... in the days to come, the months to come and the years to come, it will take a lot to recover from this.

Ahmed Bam, Head of search, rescue and disaster coordination - Gift of the Givers

Listen to the full conversation below:


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