“I am relieved to be in the camp, to have a place to sleep is already a lot for someone who has lost everything."

Since Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique on 14 March, the UN estimates that more than 73,000 individuals are displaced at over 69 temporary accommodation sites, and 1.85 million people are in need.

The cyclone wreaked havoc across a wide area in Mozambique’s Sofala, Tete, Zambezia and Manica provinces. A drive through Beira city reveals extensive damage to homes and infrastructure - with trees leaning against buildings, toppled power lines, thousands of properties with missing roofs and collapsed sea walls.

Where necessary IOM is supporting the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) in setting up temporary accommodation sites, in order to bring internally displaced persons out of schools, and to reclaim space for students to return to their studies.

Temporary accommodation sites have been set up for the displaced, including five by IOM, but are seen as a measure of last resort, when affected families are unable to return to their homes.

Destruction caused by the Cyclone Idai in Beira city. Photo: IOM 2019/Amanda Nero

IOM is working hand in hand with the Mozambique’s INGC to coordinate service delivery at the Samora Machel temporary accommodation site and four other sites in Beira city.

IOM is also responsible for setting up sites and tents, and oversight of activities and provision of services from partners.

Over 400 people have been relocated to the Samora Machel temporary accommodation site in Beira city.

In order to improve these sites, humanitarian partners have installed additional latrines, showers, and shade areas. In the Samora Machel site, volunteers living in the neighbourhood helped to set up the tents, guided by IOM’s Shelter experts.

IOM staff building a shade point at the site. Photo: IOM 2019/Amanda Nero

IOM is working together with the Government social services to establish protection centres in four temporary accommodation sites in Beira.

IOM is also supporting the Government in providing training for local staff and raising awareness about available referral pathways for vulnerable cases, such as victims of gender-based violence.

IOM staff helping a young girl to carry a heavy bucket of water to her family. Photo: IOM 2019/Amanda Nero

The families previously registered at Mutamba school were relocated to Samora Machel, following significant investment in site preparation and planning.

Families were transported by bus from Mutamba school.

Each site resident has their own story and hopes to make a new beginning after the cyclone. Before Cyclone Idai struck Beira, Ines used to sell dried fish in the market. She lost her home and was forced to relocate with her family to the Samora Machel site.

“I lived in Praia Nova with my husband and two children. On March 14 the wind started to blow during the day, but it was at night that it became strong. So strong that it blew the roof away. We tried to cover ourselves with a tarp, but the wind was too forceful. It kept raining for two weeks after the winds. We were soaked day and night. The children’s school materials were also destroyed by the water," said Ines.

Ines with her son in front of her tent. Photo: IOM 2019/Amanda Nero

“They said on the radio that after 2pm the wind would get strong, and advised us to not stay under trees and to find shelter in a safe place. We did not imagine that it would be so strong. By the time we decided to leave the water was already at chest height. We carried what we could on our heads. Rain kept falling from the sky for about a week, everything was wet. We could not even light a match, there was no electricity, no connection. We were scared and disconnected from the world, without news from friends and family," said Manuel Joao.

Manuel Joao is a truck driver and has five children. He and his family are taking shelter at Samora Machel site. Photo: IOM 2019/Amanda Nero

In order to provide assistance for displaced families, IOM is also managing the Common Pipeline for shelter materials and other humanitarian supplies.

IOM is coordinating with more than 20 partners for the storing, handling, transportation and distribution of shelter kits, plastic sheeting as well as non-food item kits, with the support of the Logistics Cluster, Beira Airport and the INGC. These relief materials are improving living conditions in homes, schools and health centres for affected families.

As of 19 April, over 130,000 people have been reached with shelter support from IOM and partners.

The Samora Machel site now has treated water and a specific shaded space reserved for cooking, to protect from the hot sun.

Joao fills up his bucket to bring water to his family. Photo: IOM 2019/Amanda Nero

A theatre group gave a presentation about cholera to the inhabitants of Samora Machel to raise awareness on how to prevent the disease; the actors themselves are also displaced from their homes.

A theatre group performs a play about cholera. Photo: IOM 2019/Amanda Nero

Temporary displacement sites are seen as a measure of last resort. Authorities expect that these sites will close in 2-3 months in line with a new return, relocation and resettlement strategy, in which 15,000 plots of land will be made available by the government.

IOM through the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Task Force and the Shelter Cluster is supporting the government with this initiative through the facilitation of transportation.

In line with this initiative, on the weekend of 20 April, more than 250 families from Buzi who were displaced by the cyclone, were brought to a temporary displacement site nearby their area, southwest of Beira. The government plans to offer plots of land in order for families to resettle.


A child living in Samora Machel made a drawing of his house which was destroyed by the cyclone.

The establishment of the Samora Machel temporary accommodation site involved the support of many partners. 

Management of the temporary accommodation sites is handled by Mozambique’s INGC. Support to the Samora Machel site included: tents from UNHCR and the Turkish Red Crescent, a child-friendly space from World Vision, a women-friendly space from UNFPA, electrical connections from Electricians Without Borders, Mobile Medical Team health provision by MSF. The water and sanitation system was set up by the British, Spanish and Swiss Red Cross, while water is provided by Mozambique’s water authority (FIPAG). Additional support and services have been provided by UNICEF, the Mozambique Red Cross (CVM), Mozambique Ministry of Health (MISAU) and UNHCR. A group of youth volunteers in cooperation with IOM staff and Brazilian firefighters set up the tents.