In March of 2019, one of the worst tropical cyclones to affect the Southern Hemisphere in recorded history swept the east coast of Africa. Tropical Cyclone Idai wreaked havoc as it made land and slowly moved across the countries of Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi, and Zimbabwe for over two weeks. With a highest recorded wind speed of 195 km/h (120 mph), Idai caused devastating damage and intense flooding, affecting over 3M people and killing over 1300. Mozambique suffered the most catastrophic effects of Idai, with almost 2M people affected and nearly three-fourths of a billion dollars in damages.
When Idai occurred, Fenix was in preparations to launch sales in Mozambique in Q2 of 2019, and the team wanted to contribute to the relief efforts. With over 130,000 people displaced, often living in poor conditions without power, our solar home systems were a promising solution to provide energy to those lacking electricity. Former Financial Operations Manager Laura Martin and Business Development Fellow Darren Jacoby first proposed donating kits for the victims of Idai, and reached out to dozens of non-profits to determine what organization would be a good fit.
iDE was a promising partner, and Operations and Strategy Manager Nikita Smeshko from the Global Team took over coordinating the project, meeting with the iDE team and organizing the logistics of the donation. iDE then picked up the kits from the Fenix warehouse and shipped them to their final destinations in the affected areas.
While Fenix was organizing the mechanics of the donation, iDE also determined the 250 recipients of the kits. They focused on regions where they already had operations in place and where people had not received other assistance in spite of being significantly affected by Idai. They prioritized victims of the cyclone in areas without access to electricity, and further focused on widows; people disadvantaged by an illness or disability; children who performed well in school; and orphaned and vulnerable children living with grandparents or family members.
On December 11, iDE was at last able to present the kits to the 250 recipients. One hundred recipients are in the Sofala province of Mozambique, and 150 are located in the Manica province. The beneficiaries greatly appreciate having a source of clean lighting and phone charging in their homes and comment on how they no longer need to buy batteries for lanterns or oil for lamps or pay to charge their phones. Families are able to talk more after dinner than before, as well.
Beneficiaries rave about their new solar systems. “Thank you so much for lighting and charging for our cell phones. Today I already read and can do my homework at any time,” said student Maria Lius.
“As a farmer, in the field without national electricity coverage, I had no hope of ever being asleep and staying in a house with a solar panel lighting,” before getting the Fenix Power system, said Maria dos Anjos.
Farmer Maria Paulo, right, adds, “Today my children can read and my daughters can do their hair in the evenings. People in the community want to know where the kit is from and how much it costs.”
Fenix is grateful to have been able to make a small contribution to the Idai recovery efforts and support affected families in partnership with iDE. Thank you to all the team members across both organizations who worked to make this happen!