Islamic Relief South Africa is ratcheting up its emergency response to the country’s devastating floods as more rain is expected in the coming days.
The heaviest rain the country has experienced in 60 years has so far led to the deaths of over 340 people, destroyed homes, schools, and public infrastructure, and disrupted the supply of water and electricity to many residential areas.
After rapidly assessing the situation, Islamic Relief staff and volunteers immediately started to provide cooked meals, clean water, food packs, hygiene kits, blankets, and mattresses to the affected areas in Durban, Pinetown, Port Shepstone, Isipingo, Umlazi, Umbumbulu, Wyebank and Pietermaritzburg. Islamic Relief has been working closely with relevant government services, community leaders and others to ensure that the aid reaches the most vulnerable people in the affected communities.
So far, Islamic Relief has delivered 300 food packs, 200 mattresses, 200 blankets, and 10,000 litres of clean water to the affected areas.
Mr. Abdelrahman Shat, Islamic Relief South Africa’s Regional Programmes Coordinator, said: “Islamic Relief is providing immediate relief to those who have been affected by the floods, many of whom have lost their homes and livelihoods. But we are also assessing how we can help in the longer term. The impact of this severe flooding will be felt for a long time. And unfortunately, it’s far from over. More heavy rains are expected in the coming days, which will exacerbate an already dire situation. Communities were already struggling as a result of Covid-19 and the impact of the floods has severely worsened their plight.”
Ms. Fernaaz Hussain, Islamic Relief South Africa’s Media Coordinator based in Durban, was personally affected. She recounted her experience:
“I picked up my daughter from school and the water was rising so fast I could see it coming over the doors. The roads were becoming so waterlogged I had to try several routes before we got home. Then it just got worse and worse. I have never seen anything like it in my life.
“We haven’t been able to sleep as the rain has been so heavy and the wind so strong that we feared the windows will break. Imagine how it must feel in a shack in the informal settlements if the rains could wash away bricks and mortar? My heart goes out to people who live there.
“It was so scary. An oil tanker washed up on Durban beach. Shipping containers were floating down motorways. Pipes in the reservoirs were broken and we currently have no water. I had to take some time off work to try and find some clean water for my family.
“The worst thing is that more rain is expected and it could get even worse. I’ve had enough of living in ‘historic times.’ First Covid, then the riots last July and now this.
“But I’m proud to be working for Islamic Relief. We were one of the first NGOs to respond. Our staff and volunteers braved the harsh weather condition to deliver food packs, water, mattresses and blankets to people who lost everything.”
Islamic Relief South Africa will work closely with government, public and private sectors, together with leaders and members of the affected communities. This is important in order to be able to obtain relevant and accurate information and ensure that aid is well coordinated, delivered effectively and based on needs.
Spokespeople are available in Durban