Cyclone Eloise Emergency Response

by IsraAID
Cyclone Eloise Emergency Response
Cyclone Eloise Emergency Response
Cyclone Eloise Emergency Response
Cyclone Eloise Emergency Response
Cyclone Eloise Emergency Response
Cyclone Eloise Emergency Response
Cyclone Eloise Emergency Response
Cyclone Eloise Emergency Response

Cabo Delgado, Mozambique’s poorest province, is home to over 800,000 internally displaced people who escaped the ISIS-inspired rebel group Al-Sunna wa Jama’a. Among them are over 384,000 children, many of whom have witnessed horrific violence.

Hundreds of local schools were destroyed in the fighting, and those that remained were closed for over a year due to COVID-19. Without the protective environment of school, Mozambican children affected by conflict, displacement, and isolation face psychosocial difficulties and are at risk of abuse and exploitation. Girls are especially exposed to child marriage and young pregnancy.

IsraAID has been responding to this crisis since 2019. By working in the education system, we provide a sustainable, long-term solution that reaches thousands of children each year. 

We are delivering training for teachers and community activists in:

  • Child protection, gender-based violence, and referral mechanisms
  • Stress and trauma care tailored to the specific needs of displaced people
  • Inclusive education for children with physical and cognitive disabilities
  • Emotional resilience and self-care in the classroom and beyond.

Most recently in May, we conducted a monthly self-care workshop in Metuge district. The workshop adopted a mixed methodology, both in the classroom and in the community. Working with the activists, our team conducted mental health training followed by door-to-door visits. The activists, along with IsraAID team members, visited beneficiaries at their homes to discuss psychosocial needs and case management. Having this hands-on training allows the activists to learn new skills, putting them into practice knowing they have back-up while they are still becoming comfortable with the methodology. These accompanied door-to-door visits are a regular activity that the IsraAID team provides three days a month, ensuring that the tools and knowledge provided to the activist are being appropriately used. 

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Cyclone Eloise hit Mozambique in January 2021 with heavy rains and winds of 140km/h. It caused over $10 million worth of damage, ravaging thousands of homes, schools, and health centers. 11 people lost their lives, and 8,000 were displaced.
Among the hardest hit were already vulnerable communities still recovering from 2019’s Cyclone Idai. Temporary homes made of plastic were destroyed, and the spread of COVID-19 in crowded schools serving as emergency shelters was a high risk. This was exacerbated by minimal access to safe water for handwashing and other basic hygiene practices since wells were contaminated by the rain, and by a lack of protective items such as masks. With global travel restrictions in place amid COVID-19, IsraAID’s long-term mission in Mozambique was uniquely placed to respond to Cyclone Eloise.

IsraAID’s rapid needs assessment identified that many people in shelters feared the spread of COVID-19 above all else and that few humanitarian actors were providing support at the Sofala Educational Center due to its relative distance. Thus, we distributed hygiene kits containing soap, a water purifier bottle, and multiple reusable face masks to 121 families. Recipients included children, men, women, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Most residents of Buzi were permanently displaced by Cyclone Idai two years ago; those who have had no choice but to leave during Cyclone Eloise. They moved to four Resettlement Neighborhoods, living in tents shared by 10 adults plus additional children, and awaiting materials to build new homes. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Resettlement Neighborhoods, IsraAID supplied 1,500 reusable face masks, which were distributed to 668 families. 

IsraAID’s WASH team assessed 15 schools being used as temporary shelters, considering the existing facilities and population served and selected two sites where our intervention would be most effective. Cyclone-resilient structures were built to provide safe toilets, handwashing stations, and a borehole to supply clean water for these facilities. Construction took place with the Ministry of Education’s support and complied with national requirements for WASH facilities in schools. As Mozambique is the country's fifth most affected by extreme weather in the 21st century1, and schools regularly shelter vulnerable populations during emergencies, this intervention will have a lasting impact on disaster preparedness for communities in Beira and Buzi.

In addition to including personal protection equipment in the hygiene packs distributed, IsraAID’s team integrated COVID-19 safety, awareness, and prevention messaging across all its emergency response. Gatherings took place outdoors to enable social distancing; children and adults participating in psychosocial support workshops were able to deal with the combined effect of Storm Eta and Hurricane Iota occurring while they continue to grapple with COVID-19; and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) solutions focused on securing a rapid return to proper hygiene practices. In addition, IsraAID’s team developed four 30-minute radio programs on COVID-19 prevention and stress management, which were translated into the two main local dialects – Sena and Ndau – and broadcast to around 1.8 million listeners in Sofala.

Your generous support has enabled IsraAID to provide urgent relief for families displaced by Cyclone Eloise, sharing much-needed supplies and key messaging amid COVID-19. Additionally, the establishment of
water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure at two schools will enable 5,550 students to access safe water and WASH systems year-round, while thousands of families will now be able to maintain basic hygiene practices and prevent water-borne diseases in future emergencies. IsraAID’s team is continuing to implement vital Community rituals to request permission from the ancients to withdraw water, prior to borehole drilling programming in Mozambique, working to build community resilience and support that affected long-term by climate- and conflict-driven disasters and displacement, so that Mozambicans are better prepared for any future emergency that might occur.



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In March 2019, the province of Sofala in Mozambique was hit by Cyclone Idai. With some 1.85 million people directly affected by Cyclone Idai’s destructive path, international organizations called this “massive disaster,” the worst weather-related crisis to have ever hit the southern hemisphere. 

A partnership between the Ministry of Education in Sofala Province and IsraAID was established to address the mental health needs of populations recovering from disaster, and to strengthen emotional resilience and mental health literacy in the education system. Based on the pilot carried out for teachers in five affected districts including, Beira, Dondo, Nhamatanda, Buzi, and Muanza, IsraAID Protection specialists recognized the ongoing necessity to strengthen mental health capacity within the education system, in order to address psychosocial needs after the cyclone. In order for the school system to strengthen resilience and ‘build better’, this joint venture aimed to support teachers and provide them with tools to strengthen emotional resilience within the classroom setting. In the summer of 2020, as part of the training-of-trainers implementation model, IsraAID also conducted virtual Psychosocial Support training sessions for 125 trainers of four local pedagogical institutes.

Many were the achievements of this whole mental health project, some of which are highlighted below:

Schools Trained 

In total, IsraAID trained 234 primary schools among five districts in Sofala, namely Beira, Dondo, Nhamatanda, Buzi and Muanza.  

Teachers Trained

Counting all the people trained (teachers, focal points, and government technicians) in the training-of-trainers and replica methods, IsraAID trained 2,401 people. 

School Kits

During the PSS trainings, teachers learned how to encourage and observe resilience among students. Understanding the difficulties teachers face to acquire materials in Mozambique, IsraAID prepared a Resilience School Kit composed of notebooks, coloring pencils, balls, hula-hoops, and an activities activity guide for the teachers and distributed to all the 234 schools where teachers were trained in our PSS program. Therefore, as soon as the classes are back, teachers will be able to use these materials and use their knowledge in PSS to support the students and their emotional issues. 

COVID-19 Response

  • Kits distribution -  With the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, schools in Mozambique were closed. In order to support the students, in both hygiene and psychosocial aspects, at home and as they return to school, IsraAID started a pilot distribution of 2,740 hygiene and PSS kits for primary school students of Beira and Dondo. In total, 1060 kits were distributed in Dondo and 1440 in Beira, totalizing 2,500 distributions. 
  • Radio sessions - As part of the COVID-19 response, live radio sessions were carried out by IsraAID In order to provide information regarding health and mental health during the pandemic. The six programs performed were transmitted in Portuguese and two other languages, thus influencing more people. Each program reached approximately 900 thousand people in the district of Sofala. Despite all the information about COVID-19 disclosure around the world and by the Mozambican government, the audience was constantly asking about the subject. This showed us how information does not get to everybody and how important radio diffusion is awareness sessions are important in Mozambique. 

As we wrap up much of our work in Sofala, we are opening a PSS program in Pemba, a new district in the north of Mozambique. Thank you for your support as we continue to reach thousands of school children and teachers.

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Over 2,500 families are creating a new home in Guara-Guara, Mozambique after being displaced in January when Cyclone Eloise destroyed thousands of buildings and livelihoods. IsraAID Mozambique opened a new Child Friendly Space in Guara-Guara where activities include dancing and art to help children process their trauma.

"We suffered a lot from the cyclones and floods when we left Buzi. We were rescued by boat to the high school of Guara-Guara where we were resettled. We are receiving help from the government with food up to today. We lost almost everything. Being a volunteer facilitator with IsraAID is important for me because, after everything that happened, we can still bring joy to the children. Wherever I go the children call me: “Look, the auntie from our little school” and it makes me very happy." - Sonia, a volunteer at our CFS in Mozambique.

Luisa currently lives in Guara-Guara, after her house in Buzi village was destroyed by flooding and the cyclone. "I took refuge in a neighbor's house. The next day everything was flooded. We left by boat to Guara-Guara. Life is difficult. When the coronavirus arrived we felt safer in our own homes. Now that we are here it is different. Although we are wearing masks and washing our hands, there are 10 families in a tent."

Hear their stories in our video.

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In the early morning of January 23rd, Cyclone Eloise made landfall in Mozambique early with winds of up to 140km/h and intense rain. The cyclone primarily affected Sofala province where IsraAID team members are based. More than 176,500 were affected and at least 6 people killed. Cyclone Eloise comes less than two years after the area was impacted by Cyclone Idai, when IsraAID first began its long-term work in the country.

Despite many homes losing walls, roofs, or being completely submerged, the biggest concern among the affected communities is the spread of COVID-19. For the 8,300 displaced people sheltering in schools, there is a severe lack of access to food, safe water, sanitation infrastructure, and hygiene products.

IsraAID Mozambique has been working with some of the worst affected of the more than 8,000 displaced people. IsraAID first arrived in Mozambique after Cyclone Idai in 2019.

The IsraAID Emergency Response team is regularly visiting the temporary accommodation centers set up in schools in and around Beira City, ensuring that the most vulnerable people have access to water, food, and other essential items.

With your support, our team in Mozambique has distributed hygiene kits reaching over 700 people so far, providing reusable face masks, soap, feminine hygiene products, and other essential hygiene items.

The team in Mozambique is continuing to distribute essential hygiene items. In addition to Beira City, they are focusing their response efforts on the area of Guara-Guara in Buzi, a nearby rural district. Buzi village suffered from severe flooding and Guara-Guara is serving as a resettlement location for over 15,000 of the affected people.


Read our latest blog from Carolina Andrade, IsraAID Mozambique's Program Manager:

“Disasters don’t discriminate” has been heard numerous times throughout the past year to highlight the fact that COVID-19 affects us all — poor and rich, young and old, male and female. But this phrase describes the exception much more than the rule, and the impact of Cyclone Eloise in Mozambique couldn’t exemplify this better.

Less than two years after Cyclone Idai devastated the livelihoods, homes, and lives of almost 2 million Mozambicans, Cyclone Eloise swept across the same part of the country in early 2021. Over 8,000 people were displaced to temporary shelters, where up to 40 people sleep per room. Almost all women, children and elderly.

During our visits to these evacuation centers, we have seen that women typically stay in the shelters with the children while men often leave early to find food or a way to earn money. For those whose homes were not completely destroyed, the husbands are likely staying at home to protect their belongings against thieves, far away from the shelters Additionally, there are many widows in the shelters, whose households were even more vulnerable to disaster. Alone in the shelters, women are left to face the severe lack of safe water, food, and sanitation, and without any light, many told me they felt a heightened risk of sexual and gender-based violence.

Paula*, a mother of three young children, told IsraAID’s team about the risks of staying in the shelters. “Here we are not safe,” she said. “The roof here at the school also fell, yesterday we found used condoms [on the floor]. We are already afraid, we don’t even have light. Nobody here talks about COVID, nor about illness. The other day a girl went into labor right here.”

Mariana’s* labor started the day she arrived at the shelter, just a day after her home was destroyed in the storm. With no transport available, she and her husband hitchhiked to the hospital. With no home to return to, they are now living in cramped and unsanitary conditions with a newborn baby.

Without men, women have less chance of receiving a good meal from the small amounts of food that are being distributed. In most communities, as our team has heard and witnessed, men receive food first and in bigger portions, leaving women to wait for the possibly meager remains. In IsraAID’s visits to temporary shelters, our team, made up largely of Mozambican social workers and humanitarian professionals, are advocating for the most vulnerable people – pregnant women, new mothers, the elderly, and people with disabilities – to ensure they are prioritized.

Despite the adversities thrown at them, I have seen friendships develop. Individually these women are vulnerable, but united they are stronger. In each center we visit, I always see groups of women standing together, supporting each other through yet another disaster. They keep each other going. IsraAID’s team will be with them, every step of the way.


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Organization Information


Location: Tel Aviv, Merkaz - Israel
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @IsraAID
Project Leader:
Ethan Schwartz
Tel Aviv, Merkaz Israel
$562 raised of $99,999 goal
15 donations
$99,437 to go
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