The United Nations International Children’s Emergency (UNICEF) Zimbabwe says more than 100 000 children in Manicaland are in desperate need of psychosocial support in the aftermath of the devastating Cyclone Idai.
Zimbabwe experienced torrential rainfall caused by Cyclone Idai which caused high winds and heavy precipitation in Chimanimani, Chipinge, Buhera, Nyanga, Makoni, Mutare Rural, Bikita, Masvingo and Gutu Districts.
An estimated 60,000 children are in need of immediate protection services, and 100,000 children are in need of welfare and civil registration services in nine flood-affected districts, the UN agency said.
“At Skyline Junction in Chimanimani children are among the affected communities who have come, some unaccompanied, to seek assistance. It is critical that they receive psychosocial support and social protection as the long term effects of this disaster sets in,” reads the UNICEF report.
The United Nation’s children fund said that road to recovery for children affected by the cyclone will be long as they need to heal from the deep trauma they have experienced.
Meanwhile, the organisation said that it has come up with a response strategy to provide psychosocial support for the affected children through the deployment of social workers.
“UNICEF has reprogrammed funds and existing partnerships with three CSO partners (REPPSI, World Education International and Child Line) in order to meet immediate protection needs through reprogrammed funds.
“As of 22 March, a total of 12 social workers including clinical trauma counsellors, were deployed to affected areas.
“The social workers have so far assisted 1,234 affected children and young mothers with psychological first aid, bereavement support and protection of sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) awareness in affected areas.”
According to UNICEF, another 15 social workers will be deployed for trauma counselling, mentoring support for antiretroviral treatment (ART) adherence for children affected by HIV.
UNICEF added that the immediate priority for the education sector is to minimize disruption of learning and ensure that children are in safe learning spaces.
“Since the onset of the cyclone, UNICEF has engaged the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) on the response to the disaster.
“To respond to the disaster, UNICEF has in stock 30 (72sqms) tents, 10 (24sqm) tents and 28 schools in a box kit.”
The organisation also revealed that coordination and case referrals on the ground between service providers have been hampered by low phone reception and lack of electricity to charge phones.
“Data on the affected schools has also been difficult to gather as affected areas were inaccessible following the destruction of road infrastructure.”
“UNICEF will continue to closely monitor the situation and engage other education partners in the development of the sector plan”.