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Three Years On, WFP Reflects On Cyclone Idai Response

Three years ago, Cyclone Idai  struck the eastern highlands in Zimbabwe, claiming more than 200 lives and devastating livelihoods.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) immediately launched a response, providing life-saving support to affected communities.

Overall, 1.8 million people were reached with emergency food assistance. Most importantly, this support was combined with asset rehabilitation and infrastructure recovery in cyclone-affected communities, improving access and renewing livelihoods for nearly 5,800 households.

On the third anniversary of this catastrophe, WFP reflects on how climatic shocks are standing in our way to achieve Zero Hunger and calls on everyone to drive transformation and protect the planet.

Agnes Chiranga, a 55-year-old mother of five, lost her crops and livestock three years ago. She says that action cannot be further delayed: it is urgent to stabilize the climate, protect our environment and stem pollution. In her words, “we need to build back better by being kind to nature“.

After the cylone, Agnes received WFP’s support to use efficient stoves that prevent the negative impacts of traditional cooking on the environment, economic development, and public health. She also contributed to the rehabilitation of a community garden in Marateni, which is irrigated by a single, solar powered water pump. These activities provide a good base for inclusive agricultural growth and the sustainable dissemination of energy.

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“We are growing vegetables at the garden that we could not produce before, since we had no watering system. I am also using fewer firewood, so I help protect our trees and pollute less“, she explains.

By increasing productivity and promoting sustainable agriculture, WFP contributes to strengthening and diversifying incomes and livelihoods. Communities are empowered to work together to create or rehabilitate productive assets that will make them more resilient to natural shocks, whenever they occur. Now that Agnes is resilient, she will not have to make difficult decisions when there is a crisis. If like Agnes, more people become resilient, a natural disaster will not necessarily escalate into a food emergency with long-lasting impacts.

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) coordinates the implementation of a four-year Cyclone Idai Recovery Project (ZIRP) with WFP, UNICEF, FAO, WHO , IOM, UNFPA and UNESCO. This “One Project – One Team” approach brings together expertise in each sector to achieve better results.

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