By Chiara MattiroloApril 13, 2019
CAMP DARBY, Italy - Employees at Camp Darby were on hand to provide humanitarian assistance once again after disaster struck Mozambique.
On March 26, 405th Army Field Support Battalion, Africa Facility Manager and USAID/OFDA Coordinator Alberto Chidini received a phone call from the USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, requesting immediate support for Beira, Mozambique, as the population was facing major difficulties after Cyclone Idai hit the region March 20.
OFDA is responsible for leading and coordinating the U.S. government's response to disasters overseas. According to the USAID.gov website, OFDA responds to an average of 65 disasters in more than 50 countries every year to ensure aid reaches people affected by rapid-onset disasters-such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and floods-and slow-onset crises, including drought and conflict.
OFDA fulfills its mandate of saving lives, alleviating human suffering, and reducing the social and economic impact of disasters worldwide in partnership with USAID functional and regional bureaus and other U.S. government agencies.
When disaster strikes, OFDA sends regional and technical experts to the affected country to identify and prioritize humanitarian needs. In the wake of a large-scale disaster, OFDA can deploy a Disaster Assistance Response Team to coordinate and manage an optimal U.S. government response, while working closely with local officials, the international community, and relief agencies.
OFDA also maintains stocks of emergency relief supplies in warehouses worldwide and has the logistical and operational capabilities to deliver them quickly. Camp Darby is one of those assets.
Widespread flooding and devastation is the aftermath of the devastating cyclone while, in the meantime, cholera infection represents one of the major risks to the population.
"OFDA request included 180 rolls of plastic sheeting, 1,800 kitchen sets, and 3,600 high thermal blankets," Chidini said.
This first load of supplies was shipped out of Camp Darby's OFDA warehouse on March 28 via commercial charter flight.
Just four days after the first request, a second request came to the 405th from OFDA for a water treatment unit. The unit was immediately prepared and sent via cargo to Liegi Airport in Belgium, where it was shipped via commercial aircraft to its final destination in Mozambique.
"The same day," Chidini recalled, "I also received a third request for 19,020 kitchen sets, 2,000 rolls of plastic sheeting and 60,400 wool blankets. Once completed, this shipment worth almost $2 million.
From the very first request for support, personnel of OFDA supply at Camp Darby strived to respond quickly, knowing that there were people in Africa fighting to survive.
"We knew that Cyclone Idai devastated the Southern African region," said Maurizio Lambardi, supervisor supply technician with the 405th. "When we received the official call for support, we started working with a sense of urgency, knowing that every hour is precious for the population facing devastation and cholera epidemic."
"We are proud and satisfied to contribute in bringing help to hundreds and hundreds of people who have lost all they had," said Chidini. "This altruistic spirit and strong motivation allow us to work at an unusually fast pace to reach the set objective as soon as possible."