The United Nations (UN) has appealed to member states to respond quickly and generously to the humanitarian appeals following the devastating Cyclone Idai that hit parts of southern Africa last month.

In a meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed warned that of an almost $400-million funding appeal for the three worst-affected countries, only about 12% has been received.

This comes as concerns remain heightened over rising cholera and malaria cases.

The worst storm to hit southern Africa in many generations has already killed more than 700 people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

The risk of continued flooding, spread of disease and loss of more lives persists.

Mohammed days: “The Central Emergency Response Fund immediately disbursed $20-million,  yet the response is still underfunded. We also need to ensure that the response is expanded to rural areas and communities. The three countries need $392 million for the next three months.  Yet only $46 million has been recorded on the Financial Tracking System. And so here we call on Member States to bridge this gap urgently.”

Mohammed clearly indicated that the world needs to look towards not only rebuilding but preventing such disasters in the future.

Executive Director of the World Food Programme David Beasley highlighted how climate extremes add great pressure to an already stressed international humanitarian system.

Mark Lowock, who is under the Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and responsible for the UN’s overall emergency response says expectations of a decent harvest in the region have been decimated by the breadth of Idai’s destruction.

The response to Cyclone Idai is also to be discussed at a meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank next week.

The major focus now is on preventing a health emergency with some 900 000 doses of oral cholera vaccines arriving in Mozambique’s battered city of Beira earlier on Tuesday.

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