SPECIAL: Natural Disasters in Africa

Cyclone Idai ‘might be southern hemisphere’s worst such disaster’

The devastating cyclone that hit south-eastern Africa may be the worst ever disaster to strike the southern hemisphere, according to the UN.

Cyclone Idai has swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe over the past few days, destroying almost everything in its path, causing devastating floods, killing and injuring thousands of people and ruining crops. More than 2.6 million people could be affected across the three countries, and the port city of Beira, which was hit on Friday and is home to 500,000 people, is now an “island in the ocean”, almost completely cut off.

The official death tolls in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi are 200, 98 and 56 respectively. But these totals only scratch the surface; the real toll may not be known for many months as the countries deal with a still unfolding disaster.

Mozambique’s president, Filipe Nyusi, announced three days of national mourning late on Tuesday and said his government would declare a national emergency….


Christian Aid launches emergency appeal as Cyclone Idai causes death and destruction in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe

More than a million people have been affected by severe flooding in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe with the numbers rising rapidly as the full extent of the damage becomes clearer, Christian Aid has warned.

Cyclone Idai carrying heavy rains and winds of up to 170km/h (106mp/h) made landfall at the port of Beira, Mozambique’s fourth largest city, on Thursday night (14 March), leaving the 500,000 residents without power and communications lines down.

The cyclone follows a week of heavy rains and flooding across South East Africa that has already killed at least 145 people in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. The President of Mozambique has warned that the number could exceed 1,000…


Cyclone survivors clinging to rooftops in Mozambique as they await rescue, aid officials say

Cyclone Idai has swept through Southern Africa, potentially killing hundreds of people and leaving widespread flooding in Mozambique.

People in cyclone-hit areas of Mozambique are clinging desperately to rooftops in areas virtually submerged by flood water, awaiting aid and rescue, the charity Save the Children has said.

Aid workers are also racing against time to save thousands of children from becoming trapped in Buzi, a district in the country’s central Sofala province that could become submerged in the next 24 hours, according to an aerial survey, the international charity said.

The survey showed that more than 50 kilometers of land in Buzi town has been submerged after a river burst its banks in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai that has devastated three countries in southern Africa…


Why Malawi is failing to protect people from floods and what needs to be done

Severe floods in Malawi have affected about a million people and claimed 56 lives.

This isn’t uncommon in the country. Between 1946 and 2013, floods accounted for 48% of major disasters, and their frequency and severity is increasing. They have occurred in 16 out of the country’s 28 districts, in both rural and urban areas. The Lower Shire Valley in southern Malawi, bordering Mozambique, composed of Chikwawa and Nsanje Districts is the most flood prone and affected area.

Floods stifle development efforts at every level. They affect many sectors from agriculture to sanitation, environment and education. The combined effects of floods and droughts cause losses of at least 1.7% of Malawi’s GDP annually. And due to food shortages and higher domestic prices, the national poverty headcount rate increases by almost 1% each year.

One of the major reasons for floods in Malawi is rainfall characteristics. Rainfall is variable, erratic and rainfall in the highlands often causes floods in the low-lying areas. Also, extensive deforestation increases runoff and the overall flood risk….


Cyclone Idai: “The scale of devastation is enormous” A catastrophe is unfolding in southeast Africa.

A man searches for missing family members with his dog on March 18, 2019, in eastern Zimbabwe, after the area was hit by Cyclone Idai. Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images

Though the official death toll is 84, President Filipe Nyusi said Tuesday “it appears that we can register more than 1,000 deaths.” On local radio, he said “many bodies” had been seen floating in flooded rivers.

We don’t yet have a full picture of the toll of Cyclone Idai, which smashed into the port city of Beira on the Indian Ocean on Friday. But early reports from relief workers on the ground are grim.

“The situation is terrible,” Jamie LeSueur of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said Tuesday in a press statement. “The scale of devastation is enormous. It seems that 90 per cent of the area [in Beira] is completely destroyed.” The IFRC described the scale of the devastation as “massive and horrifying.”

Many of the affected areas have been cut off from communications. The charity Save the Children reports that 100,000 people still need to be rescued near Beira. People are waiting on rooftops to be rescued. There are reports that flying sheet metal roofs decapitated people during the storm, which made landfall with winds in excess of 100 mph, perhaps as high as 124 mph….



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