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Cyclone Idai Relief

   Mar 26, 2019

CharityWatch announces a list of highly efficient and accountable charities involved in efforts to provide emergency relief and humanitarian assistance to Cyclone Idai victims.

Cyclone Idai slammed into the Mozambique port of Beira on March 14th. United Nations chief Antonio Guterres reportedly described Idai as “an uncommonly fierce and prolonged storm,” and “yet another alarm bell about the dangers of climate change.” The cyclone devastated the African countries of Mozambique, the hardest hit, as well as Malawi and Zimbabwe. It is estimated that in Mozambique alone 1.85 million people were affected by the storm.

The death toll has risen to 750 people, and hundreds of thousands more are displaced. Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed. Some reports put the costs of the lost infrastructure at $1 billion. It is estimated that at least one million children need urgent assistance, and that number may grow as relief efforts reach remote villages.

There is growing concern about the inevitable outbreak of malaria and cholera. Due to the large, dense population in Beira, Mozambique, the spread of any kind of epidemic will be relatively quick. International relief agencies are rushing to provide sanitation to prevent the spread of disease. The full extent of the damage from this epic cyclone will take several months to become known. 

The charities listed below perform favorably in relation to CharityWatch benchmarks:
1) A charity should spend at least 75% of its budget on program services.
2) A charity should spend no more than $25 to raise $100.

Contact your favorite charities to find out if they provide the specific types of aid that you would like to fund, e.g., emergency shelters, food and water, health care, psychological trauma counseling, rebuilding efforts, etc.


As with any charitable contribution, Americans wanting to help with disaster relief efforts should only give to legitimate charities with an established track record of helping people in need.

  • Be on guard for a surge of solicitations related to any highly publicized crisis. There will be fraudulent charity solicitations, some involving websites and email links attempting to steal your credit card information for identity theft or insert malware on your computer.
  • Do not respond to, or click on any attachments, links or pictures included in, emails or text messages received from unknown senders.
  • Social media will include many fake victims. Do not donate to unknown individuals purporting to need aid that post on Facebook, GoFundMe, etc. These may be fraudsters, and even if they are legitimate victims, they may receive an unfairly large amount of aid.
  • Scammers may try to use copy-cat names similar to those of well-known charities. Avoid name confusion by independently verifying that the charity is legitimate before you donate. Reputable charities will not pressure you to give immediately.
  • Beware of individuals or others claiming to be third party intermediaries for charities or those in need. It is best to give directly only to the charities that you are confident are legitimate and recognized for providing disaster or humanitarian relief.


The best way to help is by sending a check or donating securely by credit card. Such cash donations enable charities to buy the most needed types of food, medicine, clothing, shelter materials, and other supplies. By buying relief products locally or regionally, charities can reduce shipping costs and more rapidly deliver assistance. Before sending any goods, first contact the charity to find out if they are appropriate and if it will be cost effective to distribute them. For example, after a tsunami in the Pacific, boxes of donated winter coats, scarves and fuzzy hats, completely useless items in tsunami-stricken nations with tropical climates, were sent.

CharityWatch identifies the following Top-Rated charities, which are providing relief to the Cyclone Idai victims and receive an “A” or “B+” grade based on the portion of their budget going to program services and their fundraising efficiency. Top-Rated charities also must meet CharityWatch's Governance and Transparency benchmarks. Contact the organizations below for information on specific relief operations now underway.

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