It’s been just over a week since Cyclone Idai made landfall.

Potentially the deadliest cyclone ever to hit the southern hemisphere, Idai tore through Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, leaving an unprecedented trail of death, destruction and devastation in its wake. 

Today, the dead are still being counted, the damage is still being assessed and river waters are continuing to rise. 

Across the three affected countries, hundreds of people have been killed and an estimated 2.6 million people have been affected. 

Houses, roads and bridges have been ripped apart and agricultural land is completely submerged. 

The situation is so dire that the UK’s leading aid agencies who make up the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) earlier this week launched an urgent joint public appeal for funds. 

In Mozambique, we’re hearing stories of bodies floating in the water and entire villages being wiped out. 

In Zimbabwe, there’s simply no more room in one district’s mortuary. And in Malawi, homes are still collapsing under the deluge. 

The immediate and primary focus is of course to save lives with search and rescue operations.

Reaching affected communities is enormously challenging; bridges have been washed away and entire villages have been cut off. 

DEC charities are working closely with national partners to delivering emergency shelter kits, food such as pulses and maize flour, water purification tablets and urgent health assistance.

March is the main harvest season but people’s crops have been destroyed; crops they rely on to feed themselves and their families, and income they need for school fees and other essentials. 

Aid agencies report that food prices are already rocketing as a result. 

Elsewhere children are unable to go to school – 45,000 students in Mozambique alone have been affected. And the threat of an outbreak of serious disease is growing. 

While the human cost of losing your loved ones, your home and your harvest is impossible to quantify, the future financial cost will be eye watering. 

The bill will run into billions of dollars. 

I have seen first-hand the effects of extreme weather. In 2014, I spent time volunteering in Leyte in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. 

People’s lives were ripped apart. In minutes, years of progress was simply washed away. 

In these situations the speed and quality of the response is vital. Lives can be saved. And then they can be rebuilt. 

But the kits and the crops don’t drop out of thin air. Small amounts of money in our weekly budgets have a huge impact when spent in places that are much poorer, and on people more desperate than us.

Since I signed the partnership with Malawi in 2005 the firm connection between the people of our two countries which stretches back over more than 150 years has deepened, built on friendship and mutual development.

When I returned for the 10th anniversary of our Scotland/Malawi agreement in 2015, I visited families affected by flooding months earlier. 

The destruction meant that they were still without crops, homes and schools for their kids, living in tents without hope of return any time soon. 

I never forgot their stories and their plea that we should stand by them. 

That destruction was a fraction of the horror we see unfolding this time, so I sincerely hope that Scots will now step forward to help our friends in Malawi, and people in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, during their hour of need. 

It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of such overwhelming events but we can do something. We can all do something. 

Every donation will save lives and livelihoods. And the UK Government has promised to double the first £2 million of donations made to the Disasters Emergency Committee. 

This will ensure that charities working on the ground support people now and in the future; first reaching the men, women and children who have been left homeless and are in urgent need of food, water and temporary shelter, and later supporting children to continue their education, people to rebuild their lives and strengthen their communities’ resilience to best withstand future disasters.

This is urgent. Immediate. Our friends and their families need our support. 
Please donate at or text SUPPORT to 70000 to donate £5 today.