Thousands of people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe whose lives have been devastated by Cyclone Idai will be given access to clean water, as well as tarpaulins, plastic sheets and other emergency supplies, thanks to a grant from the Masonic Charitable Foundation

The money is being donated to Plan International UK which is working to help survivors, including young women and children, who are at particular risk.

The grant from the Freemasons will provide jerry cans, water purification tablets and buckets to thousands of people who have lost everything and are at risk of potentially-deadly waterborne diseases.

Over 750 people have died in the three countries on the south-east coast of Africa with Mozambique suffering the highest human fatalities. As the death toll continues to rise, over 260,000 children have been affected in the country and at least 350,000 people are at risk from rising flood waters. In Malawi, close to a million people have been affected with nearly half a million being children.

Plan International UK is a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). The DEC brings together 14 leading UK aid charities in times of crisis, to maximise the impact and help children and families who need it most.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Ebbie Muhire (28) is sheltering at a church in southern Malawi with five family members including her youngest child, a three-year-old toddler.

'The challenges we are facing are mainly crowded and unpleasant sleeping areas and poor sanitation and hygiene facilities because our utensils were damaged in the rain and now we are all using same equipment.' Ebbie says. 'The children, especially the young ones are at risk of getting sick.'

Tanya Barron, Chief Executive of Plan International UK, said: 'We’re hugely grateful to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for supporting our disaster response in Southern Africa. This generous grant will make a big difference to thousands of people affected by this devastating cyclone and help get their lives back on track.'

David Innes, Chief Executive of the Masonic Charitable Foundation' said: 'Cyclone Idai has devastated the lives of many thousands of people, with, as usual, women and children bearing the brunt of the suffering. I’m very pleased that the Masonic Charitable Foundation was able to move so quickly and provide funds for Plan International UK’s vital work at the heart of the disaster zone.'

Masonic Charitable Foundation donates £100,000 to East Africa food crisis appeal

Across Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Somalia, over 20 million people are on the brink of starvation. The Masonic Charitable Foundation has been among the first to respond, making an emergency grant of £100,000 to Plan International.

Drought, disease, conflict and displacement in the region have led to the first declaration of famine anywhere in the world in over six years and the UN has warned that the world is now facing the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945.

Our £100,000 grant will help Plan International to provide lifesaving support to over 970,000 people in East Africa, focusing on supporting vulnerable children and their families. This donation will help them to distribute food packages, water purification and hygiene kits. They will also provide school meals to ensure children can resume their education, as well as ensuring vulnerable children are protected from violence and abuse.

Tanya Barron, Chief Executive of Plan International UK, said: 'We’re enormously grateful to the Freemasons for their very generous grant. More than 800,000 children under five are severely malnourished. This grant will help us reach affected children and their families with urgent support.'

With predictions of further poor rainfall coupled with pockets of rising conflict, the situation is likely to deteriorate. Due to the scale of this disaster, swift humanitarian assistance is essential and the Masonic Charitable Foundation is committed to supporting communities who have been affected.

David Innes, Chief Executive of the Masonic Charitable Foundation said: 'The crisis in East Africa is one of the worst we have seen in many years and funds are needed now to provide lifesaving support to those affected. The Masonic Charitable Foundation is proud to be one of the first organisations to support this urgent appeal by providing a £100,000 grant to Plan International on behalf of Freemasons across England and Wales.'

Plan International UK is a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee, which this week launched an East Africa Crisis appeal. The DEC is made up of 13 leading aid agencies who together are responding to the food crisis in the region.

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