Cyclone Eloise: A letter from James & Isaías

Jan 28, 2021

Friends and Colleagues,

In HAI’s most recent newsletter, we shared that we were monitoring the progress of Cyclone Eloise as it approached Mozambique’s central coast.  I’m writing today, joined by our Mozambique Country Director, Dr. Isaías Ramiro, to relay the sad news that Cyclone Eloise struck Beira on Saturday, January 23, before continuing inland through Sofala and Manica Provinces.

If this sounds too familiar, it is. Though international media is focused on the lower than expected windspeed, the path and wake of Eloise’s destruction is strikingly similar to 2019’s Cyclone Idai. While the full impact of the disaster has yet to come out—widespread power and communications outages have posed barriers to assessing the full damage—what we know right now is that ~250,000 Mozambicans are impacted; the region’s health sector infrastructure has sustained extensive damage; and extreme flooding persists throughout Buzi and other lowland districts.

We also know that beginning in early January, this region was witnessing a significant spike in COVID-19 cases, with in-patient beds already reaching, and in many places surpassing, capacity.  We know that thousands of displaced Mozambicans were still living in “temporary” Idai-relief camps, now joined by thousands more.  And we know that the increasing frequency of cyclones in this region – certainly linked to man-made climate change and climate inaction – is exacerbating trauma among a population with limited existing access to mental health resources.

There is some good news. 

So far, deaths directly attributed to the storm have remained very low. The Ministry of Health has engaged their Emergency Response Team (on which Dr. Ramiro represents HAI) and they are actively working to assess the damage and formulate a list of high-priority actions and needs. Public health researchers from the Beira Operations Research Center are conducting epidemiologic surveillance, using training they received under a recently completed HAI project funded by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, to monitor cholera, COVID-19 and other communicable diseases now presenting significant concern.  And, of course, thankfully while HAI’s Beira office and many of our staff’s homes were damaged, nobody in the HAI-Mozambique family was injured.

In the wake of Cyclone Idai, not two years ago, your response and commitment to relief and rebuilding was breathtaking. Cyclone Eloise has hit, perhaps with less force, but with no less urgency.  As we work closely with our Ministry of Health partners over the coming weeks to identify where and how HAI can best contribute to what will certainly be another long and difficult rebuilding effort, we wanted to bring you in as partners in this work. We will continue to share what we know, and we ask that you help strengthen our response by making a donation today.

Updated news will be available on our website and social media channels.

In the meantime, thank you for your continued support of HAI’s mission and your solidarity with our Mozambican family, friends, and colleagues.

James & Isaías

James Pfeiffer, Executive Director
Isaías Ramiro, Country Director – Mozambique


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