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Southern African Emergency Response

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams are currently responding to the damage caused when Tropical cyclone Idai hit various Southern African countries including Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi from Thursday, 14 March 2019. In addition to assessing the damage caused by the cyclone, MSF is providing medical care and access to medical supplies to those in the most affected areas. More information within each country’s update, below.

MSF Southern Africa has dedicated a funding mechanism geared at raising funds for each country's need. Therefore, should you wish to donate towards this emergency, you are able to select which project/country your donation should be directed towards.

Kindly note: should Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reach their country-specific funding target, and/or reduce or alter the emergency response as a result of the assessments made, any surplus funds generated will be redirected to country’s operational envelope – meaning that MSF operations within the respective country will be able to utilise these funds in their ongoing operations.

Update: 12 April 2019 

Mozambique: According to the Government of Mozambique, 602 people have been confirmed dead – data as at 8 April 2019 

The number of houses destroyed or damaged stands at 239,682,  including  111,163 houses totally destroyed,  112,735 partially destroyed,  and  15,784  flooded. At least 160,927 people were still sheltering in 164 accommodation sites across Manica  (43); Sofala (113); Tete (5) and Zambezia (3) as of 8 April according to government figures.

Malawi: 83,000 people are displaced overall. Nsanje is the worst affected district, with 14 of Malawi’s 28 districts experiencing severe flooding. Rivers broke out of their banks leaving many houses fully submerged and around 11,000 people displaced. To date, official figures confirm 56 deaths, 577 injured and 3 missing. 

Zimbabwe: According to the Civil Protection Unit (CPU), more than 181 people died throughout the country (169 in Chimanimani only), more than 330 went missing (328 in Chimanimani) while about 21 940 were displaced in Zimbabwe (11 255 in Chimanamani).

Read the latest crisis info on the flooding catastrophe in Malawi and Cyclone Idai in Zimbabwe and Mozambique

Update: 29 March 2019 

  • Flooding in Malawi has displaced 87,000 people in camps, with the district of Makhanga one of the worst affected areas, which remains an island, cut off from all road access.
  • In Mozambique, Cyclone Idai wreaked havoc in the city of Beira, home to some 500,000 people, as well as in the surrounding districts of Manica and Sofala, where it has destroyed the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands more people.
  • In Zimbabwe, the impact from the cyclone on the eastern highlands has been massive with nearly 22,000 people displaced and several bridges and roads have been washed away. Some communities reachable only by foot.

Full crisis in info on Cyclone Idai in Mozambique and Zimbabwe and flooding response in Malawi 

Update: 28 March 2019


  • Two cargo planes landed in Beira on Wednesday, carrying the supplies needed to respond to a deadly outbreak of cholera
  • More than 100 tons of supplies have been shipped over the last 5 days, including medical kits, medication, first aid equipment and water and sanitation kits

Update: 27 March 2019


Update: 26 March 2019 


  • A 35-person emergency-experienced disaster response team has been deployed in Beira, with additional teams to follow shortly.
  • MSF teams are currently operating out of a partially rehabilitated health centre. An additional two health centres are being rehabilitated for medical use.
  • Mobile clinics are currently operational in several Beira neighbourhoods, providing medical consultations.
  • A shipment of 43.3 tons of medical kits, water and sanitation supplies, logistical equipment and other emergency response items have landed in Beria, Mozambique.
Aida Joao, an MSF peer educator, evacuates a child with a suspect case of pneumonia from the slum of Praia Nova to the Health Center of Punta Gea.
Aida Joao, an MSF peer educator, evacuates a child with a suspect case of pneumonia from the slum of Praia Nova to the Health Center of Punta Gea. 


  • MSF teams are providing consultations and medical supplies in the joint-stabilisation centre set up on the outskirts of Chimanimani.
  • An MSF team is working with health ministry staff out of Chimanimani hospital.
  • Two outreach teams operating in Chimanimani are attempting to access as many of the 20 health clinics and surrounding settlements as possible assessing health needs, and distributing medicines to clinics and village health workers.


  • An MSF team of 18 people is supporting the health ministry to cover the needs of an estimated 18,000 people in Makhanga on the eastern bank of the Shire River, with health, sanitation and non-food-item supplies.
  • In Makhanga health centre, MSF continues to ensure primary health care, HIV services and basic disease surveillance. We are currently seeing approximately 150 consultations per day.
  • Outreach teams are visiting communities to clean and repair boreholes. In addition to this process, our teams are testing water quality, building basic latrines, showers, shelters and distributing NFI materials and hygiene kits. Our teams have reached over 2,000 households in Makhanga.

MSF's Southern African Emergency Response

20 March 2019

Images from the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, affecting Southern African countries: Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.

Latest News


Tropical cyclone Idai hit the coastal town of Beira on 14 March 2019 with winds of up to 200kms an hour, wreaking extreme devastation along the central coastline of Sofala, Zambézia and Inhambane provinces. Ninety percent of the area around Beira has been destroyed, main roads leading into Beira have been cut off, buildings have been submerged and severely damaged and all business has been shut down. There is currently no power in Beira and the surrounding areas, and nearly all communication lines have been destroyed, which is making assessment of the human toll and scale of disaster extremely difficult. The official death toll has risen to 446 deaths and at least 1,500 injuries have been reported between Beira, Dondo and Chimoio cities.

As a result of the natural disaster, MSF’s medical activities in Beira hospital, including health centres, have been critically damaged. Beira hospital has sustained severe damage to its operating theatre and several of the wards, and all 17 health centres have lost their roofs with additional damage. Despite the damage, the hospital has treated more than 1,500 wounded patients – providing an indication of how serious this emergency is.

After several worrying days, we are relieved to report that all MSF staff have been accounted for, despite a few injuries reported.

“The first thing you see when you arrive is destruction – and a lot of water. We hear that the situation outside the town may be even worse, but in the limited time since we got here we’ve focused on trying to understand the situation and needs in this city, as there are some 500,000 inhabitants and most houses are damaged or destroyed." - Gert Verdonck, MSF emergency coordinator in Beira, Mozambique.

MSF has had operations in Mozambique since 1984, providing specialized care where the frail health system is struggling to curb a dual epidemic of HIV and tuberculosis (TB). Read more about our work in Mozambique by clicking here.

Donate towards Mozambican relief

To donate directly towards MSF's Mozambican emergency response, please ensure that you select "Mozambique Emergency Response" in the "project to support" section on the first page of the donation form. Donate online today by clicking here or alternatively, access our banking details for EFT and International donations.


After passing through Mozambique, Cyclone Idai hit Chimanimani, a small district of approximately 30,000 people in Manicaland province late Friday 15 March. Several roads leading into Chimanimani have been cut off, with access to the area only possible by helicopter. Airlifts were intended to take place to a nearby stabilisation centre but efforts are being hampered by difficult weather conditions.

MSF is focusing on supporting stabilisation centres outside Chimanimani with medical supplies and water and sanitation support.

MSF has been present in Zimbabwe since 2000. Currently, MSF operations include providing treatment for HIV, tuberculosis (TB), non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health issues, in partnership with the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health and Child Care. Read more about our work in Zimbabwe by clicking here.

Donate towards Zimbabwean relief

To donate directly towards MSF's Zimbabwean emergency response, please ensure that you select "Zimbabwe Emergency Response" in the "project to support" section on the first page of the donation form. Donate today by clicking here or alternatively, access our banking details for EFT and International donations.


In Malawi, MSF has had a flooding response for the past 2 weeks. The flooding initially started in Malawi from the early beginnings of the storm system, before the storm intensified and moved offshore, becoming Cyclone Idai and returning back to make landfall in Mozambique. This has caused severe flooding in 14 of Nsanje’s 28 districts. Rivers have broken their banks leaving many houses fully submerged and around 11,000 households displaced in Nsanje.
An MSF emergency intervention has been launched with a focus on Makhanga area in the worst affected East Bank of Nsanje.  MSF is also supporting Makhanga health centre with supplies, cleaning, human resources, along with strengthened surveillance and referral systems, along with outreach clinics and health promotion activities in the evacuation centres. 
MSF first worked in Malawi in 1986, providing HIV treatment to patients when the HIV epidemic was at its peak in the country. More recently, MSF provides prevention and early treatment of cervical cancer. Read more about our work in Malawi by clicking here.

Donate towards Malawian relief

To donate directly towards MSF's Malawian emergency response, please ensure that you select "Malawi Emergency Response" in the "project to support" section on the first page of the donation form. Donate today by clicking here or alternatively, access our banking details for EFT and International donations.

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About MSF

We are Doctors Without Borders (MSF). Our medical teams act fast to save people’s lives in conflict zones, natural disasters and epidemics. We go where we are needed most.

MSF was created in the belief that all people should have access to healthcare regardless of gender, race, religion, creed or political affiliation, and that people’s medical needs outweigh respect for national boundaries. MSF’s principles of action are described in our charter, which established a framework for our activities.

MSF is a registered and accredited Public Benefit Organisation (PBO 930025677) and Non-Profit Organisation (NPO 060-840) in South Africa and any donation to MSF is specifically exempted from donations tax as provided for in Article 30 Section 18A of the Income Tax Act.