Media CenterCatholic Relief Services (CRS) Mounts Regional Response to Devastating Cyclone Idai

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Dakar, Senegal:
Michael Stulman
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
+221 77 370 3037

Baltimore, Maryland:
Nikki Gamer
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(443) 955- 7125


LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, March 20, 2019 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is responding across three countries in Southern Africa after Tropical Cyclone Idai, which initially hit Mozambique March 14 before moving on to Zimbabwe and Malawi, left a wake of destruction in its path, causing massive damage to infrastructure as well as killing upwards of one hundred people, with many more feared dead.  President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, has said that he believes the death toll could be higher than 1,000 people, according to media reports.

“The scale of this disaster is tremendous,” said Dorrett Byrd, CRS’ Regional Director for Southern Africa. “Not only did dozens of people lose their lives, but roads have been destroyed; bridges have collapsed; low-lying crops have been wiped out; and thousands of people have lost their homes in each of the affected countries.”

Based on initial assessments, CRS plans to work with local partners in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, to provide an initial 4,000 families with immediate aid – food, emergency shelter, water and living supplies for flood affected families.

“We’re continuing to work with local partners to assess the full scale of the damages, but we already know that the needs will likely be great given how many communities have been affected,” Byrd said. “We’re working with our partners to get people clean water, food, and other basic necessities but these communities will need long-term support to fully recover from all of the devastation.”




LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, March 15, 2019 – The strongest cyclone to hit Mozambique in almost 20 years has left more than one hundred people dead and thousands displaced from their homes. Catholic Relief Services (CRS), in collaboration with the local church and government, is there to assess the situation and provide emergency aid to the families impacted by the disaster.

“Tropical Cyclone Idai makes an already dangerous situation even more serious. Thousands of people have already been affected by drought, severe rains and flooding in the last few weeks,” said Erica Dahl-Bredine, CRS’ country representative for Lesotho and Mozambique.

Over the last several weeks, extreme weather events have flooded 407,434 acres of farm land, affecting more than 100,000 farmers that depend on their land as their main source of income and food.

“These numbers will likely increase dramatically, and we will continue to assess the situation and as the scope of need becomes clearer,” Dahl-Bredine said.

As soon as the storm passes, CRS and local church partners are poised to:

  • Provide emergency shelters in the hardest-hit areas and,
  • Distribute relief items, including health & hygiene kits, soap, sanitation items, and clean water.

After a natural disaster, clean water is essential to prevent an outbreak of cholera, a disease that can quickly cause severe dehydration and death.

“We are concerned about the possibility of disease outbreaks as sanitation conditions deteriorate,” Dahl-Bredine said. “We will be actively preparing for this scenario and assessing immediate needs to provide the assistance most needed.”


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding.  For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: FacebookTwitter and Instagram.



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Dooshima Tsee, Catholic Relief Services' Regional Information Officer for Southern Africa

Regional Information Officer for Southern Africa

Dooshima Tsee &
Michael Stulman
March 15, 2019

Dooshima Tsee is the regional information officer for southern Africa for Catholic Relief Services. She serves as the point person for media, actively connecting journalists with engaging stories about CRS’ work throughout the region. Operating out of Lusaka, Zambia, Dooshima travels throughout the area to report in-depth stories on a wide range of issues, including food security, combating...More