Tropical Cyclone Idai hit Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe on 14 March. The area surrounding Beira, Mozambique's second city, has over 500,000 inhabitants, and found itself in the eye of the cyclone for several hours. Water levels rose by up to 11m, forcing thousands to take refuge on the rooftops. There were close to 500 casualties in Mozambique and 800,000 disaster victims in the three countries.
In response to the emergency, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs approached the Veolia Foundation under the auspices of their humanitarian aid partnership. A cargo plane was made available to carry first aid equipment, notably mobile water purification units designed by the Foundation's engineers. Slightly more than five tonnes of equipment were transported to the country.
Human resources were also sent to Mozambique. A Veoliaforce volunteer, trained by the Red Cross in emergency response work (Emergency Response Unit - ERU), arrived on the ground on 23 March. Seven Veolia water experts joined the volunteer on 30 March, working with Médecins Sans Frontières and Solidarités International, to deploy several Aquaforce 2000 and a Aquaforce 15 000. These mobile water treatment units will be put to good use by the health centres run by Médecins Sans Frontières in the Beira area. The Veoliaforce experts will work with their two partner NGOs to train local teams so that long-term access to water is ensured. It is crucial to react swiftly, as this means that there is a chance of controlling the forecast epidemics of waterborne diseases.