Embassies and diaspora communities have joined hands in responding to humanitarian needs brought about by cyclone Idai which has swept parts of southern Africa, killing hundreds of people in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi.

The official death toll from cyclone Idai had on Friday hit at least 181 in Zimbabwe, with fears that the figure could rise, as close to 500 people remain unaccounted for  in the country’s two worst affected districts – Chipinge and Chimanimani.

Amidst the loss of life and destruction to infrastructure, catastrophic cyclone Idai, which has plunged Zimbabwe into mourning, is not a period of hopelessness, but an opportunity to rebuild the nation, picking up the pieces for better future prospects of the country.

The Zimbabwe embassy in Pretoria has established a task force led by Deputy Ambassador Mietani Chauke to coordinate ongoing efforts across South Africa to raise assistance for victims of the catastrophic cyclone Idai. There are massive ongoing campaigns by the South African public, civil society organizations, Zimbabweans based in South Africa, religious organizations, and the South African government to assist the affected people.

Commenting on these efforts Ambassador James Hamadziripi said: “We are very much encouraged by the response that we have received, and the reaction that Zimbabweans here in South Africa, and in other countries have shown to this disaster. We have seen voluntary mobilization that has taken place, very impressive, and unprecedented. As the embassy, we have now taken leadership in some of those efforts in coordinating the provision of the relief support.”

The embassy in Pretoria,  has established a team that is led by the Deputy Ambassador Chauke  which is working in close collaboration with Zimbabweans in the diaspora to mobilize this support. “We have set up similar structures at our consulates in Cape Town and in Johannesburg in a bid to ensure that this support is well-coordinated and is delivered to those in need,” added Ambassador Hamadziripi.

Ambassador Hamadziripi highlighted that the immediate needs in the affected areas of Zimbabwe were food, safe drinking water, blankets, shelter, clothing, medicine and medical personnel. Volunteers are also needed in these areas to assist in humanitarian work.

The diaspora in the United Kingdom and Europe, with the support from the Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe in London, established the Zimbabwe Diaspora Co-Ordinating Committee for Disaster Relief [ZDCCDR]. The mandate of the ZDCCDR is to coordinate, in partnership with the wider diaspora and the Embassy of Zimbabwe, an effective diaspora-driven assistance response to a national emergency.

The Diaspora community expressed its interest to respond to the call for support and assistance in mobilizing resources in the form of food, water, medicines and shelter for the affected people. The ZDCCDR agreed to establish sub-committees to spearhead the communication of the initiative, logistics and infrastructure to support the identified activities, and financial resources for the relief efforts.

In the short-term/immediate term ZDCCDR encouraged donations of water treatment tablets, boreholes, medicines, clothes, blankets, tents, sanitation products, health safety products, cash to purchase emergency provisions and building materials. The ZDCCDR agreed to establish two platforms to assist in mobilizing funds for the Emergency response.