We saw this coming. As humanitarians, our risk assessments in different parts of the world have always factored in the potential for extreme weather events and the spread of vector-borne diseases, of drought, desertification, and mass displacement. Emergency first responders like us work up scenarios for interventions and gain experience each time we put our planning to the test in real crises.
In late March Cyclone Idai carved a path of devastation across Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi. It was the deadliest cyclone to hit the region in more than a century, others have even referred to it as “Africa’s Hurricane Katrina.” More than 1,000 people were killed. Many more saw their homes, food crops, and even entire villages washed away.
Mozambique, which was affected by an unprecedented two tropical cyclones over a matter of weeks, is still reeling from the impact a month after the latest disaster. But resultant devastation caused by the cyclones could impact the country’s elections as concerns are raised over whether the southern African nation can properly hold the ballot scheduled for later this year.
The city of Dondo, about 30 kilometres from Beira, central Mozambique, didn’t escape the strong winds of Cyclone Idai. It is estimated that more than 17,000 families were displaced and more than a dozen schools were destroyed in the city.
It was one of the worst tropical cyclones hit Southern Africa in recent times. Cyclone Idai, which has been characterised by heavy rains and flooding including mudslides in some parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, has left more than 750 dead, with thousands marooned in remote rural areas, whilst others are still unaccounted for. More than 1,5 million people are affected by the cyclone in the region.