Cyclone Idai: International aid agencies easing 'chaos and confusion' in Mozambique

25 March 2019, 22:05 | Updated: 25 March 2019, 22:27

Where there was chaos and much confusion, now there is action at the humanitarian response centre in the Mozambican city of Beira.

Authorities and international aid agencies know what they are dealing with and have begun to tackle it.

Cyclone Idai has displaced 230,000 - and many more lack food and clean water.

UNICEF warns that 900,000 children have been affected - either orphaned, separated from their families or lacking basic necessities.

However, help has arrived and much of it is from Britain.

The Department for International Development (DIFD) has sent 20 tonnes of aid to Mozambique along with specialised equipment like forklifts.

The agency has also sent water purifiers - a piece of equipment that is absolutely crucial in the battle to prevent the spread of cholera.

That there will be outbreaks of this potentially fatal water-borne disease has already been accepted.

Today, the Mozambican minister for land and the environment, Celso Correia, said their strategy was all about containing it.

"We have a lot of diarrhoea but teams are working on the ground to see if it is really cholera or not but… there will be cholera.

"The government is putting (in) prevention and treatment centres specific for cholera in the districts affected."

DIFD is also supplying high energy biscuits and a nutritional paste, which do not sound particularly appetising, but benefit from the fact that they do not need to be cooked.

Many people lack dry firewood or pots to make their meals in.

The supplies have to get to the people on the ground and that is where the World Food Program's (WFP) helicopter comes in.

Sky News witnessed British aid being delivered to an isolated spot called Goonda.

Until a few days ago this town was entirely inaccessible but the floodwaters have been receding and the pilots can now put their aircraft down.

A human chain was assembled as the helicopter landed and the cargo was unloaded in a matter of minutes.

A large crowd turned up to watch.

One man said: "We're all suffering."

Pedro Matos, emergency co-ordinator for the WFP in Mozambique, is also worried about the people who live in other parts of this district.

He said: "There are parts that we know and (where) we are doing operations but we need to keep some flexibility.

"For instance, yesterday, we reached a place 18km from here that we didn't know … so we redirected a helicopter."

This disaster demands an international response with resources that the government of Mozambique cannot provide.

Today the country's ex-president, Joaquim Alberto Chissano, expressed his thanks.

He said: "I am very much grateful for the response from the international community … because the knowledge of what is happening when there are calamities like this comes a bit late and the government does not know how to make an appeal because the government may not what is happening."

Mr Chisanno wants the UK to stick around and the British public have answered his call, raising £18m in the recent Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal.

It will go some way to help this battered nation rebuild.