Floods and effects in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi due to cyclone Idai

Juan G.R.  Floods and effects in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi due to cyclone Idai

Water and Irrigation Vol.: 10, No. 1: 4-6, 2 7 March 2019, Spain.

Cyclone Idai has caused major floods and heavy human and economic losses in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The are more than  730 deads, destroyed infrastructures and communications have been reported, thousands of hectares of crops and entire populations have been flooded, 2.8 million people are affected, one million children require urgent help, and economic losses are estimated in billions of dollars. Humanitarian aid is needed to alleviate the great tragedy suffered, mainly for Mozambique, which is the most damaged country. It is necessary to prepare and improve drainage systems to cope with future floods, which will become increasingly aggressive.

The storm system in the southeastern region of Africa developed in the Mozambique Channel on March 3 as a tropical depression and gradually organized into a tropical storm. By March 11, the tropical storm had moved eastward through the warm channel in the Mozambique Sea between the coast of Africa and Madagascar, gaining in intensity to become tropical cyclone Idai with maximum winds of 165 kilometers per hour . According to NASA sources

During the depression and tropical storm, heavy rains fell throughout the area of ​​influence that was later exacerbated by the rainfall contributed by the cyclone Idai causing great floods and heavy human and economic losses in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, Mozambique being the most affected country.

Actually there are more than 730 deaths: 417 in Mozambique according to data from the National Institute for Disaster Management, INGC, on March 23, 139 dead in Zimbabwe according to government data on March 21; the International Organization for Migration speaks of 259, and 56 in Malawi from the floods caused by Idai when it was still a tropical storm (UN data). Some 2.8 million people affected (data from the World Food Program of March 21). The Government of Zimbabwe numbers 482,974 direct victims in that country.

One million children affected, according to Unicef ​​on March 23, the victims will increase much more, “according to its executive director, Henrietta Fore, and the tragedy has left children separated from their families, who have not yet managed to reunite.

More than 55,600 households totally or partially destroyed: 39,603 houses and 3,140 school classrooms in Mozambique (INGC, March 23) and 16,000 homes in the four most affected districts of Zimbabwe, including Chipinge, which hosts a camp refugees that has been largely destroyed in that country.

The cyclone and the rains have devastated large areas in Mozambique, destroying infrastructure and communications and flooding cultivated areas and entire populations in the provinces of Sofala, Zambezia, Tete, Niassa, Manica and Cabo Delgado

The province of Sofala, located in the center of Mozambique is the most affected, local authorities have reported that 90 percent of Beira, a port city with half a million inhabitants and the second most populated in the country, has been destroyed by the cyclone that made landfall on March 14, the aid teams did not get access to the city until Sunday, many communities were under water. It will take time to know the full scale of the needs, explained the delegate of family reunification of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Diana Araujo, from Beira, the epicenter of the catastrophe.

Aerial view of the damage caused by the floods after cyclone Idai made landfall in the Sofala province of Mozambique. EPA EMIDIO JOZINE / EPA

The population expects food, shelter, medicines and drinking water, the distribution of many of these goods is bringing problems because the needs are very high and aid comes very slowly. The price of food has gone up in an exaggerated way: some fried eggs and potatoes now cost 25 dollars, whereas before they did not exceed 3-5 dollars.

We are preparing to see the emergence of diseases that are transmitted by water, such as diarrhea and cholera, “said on Friday the spokesman of the World Health Organization, Christian Lindmeier.Of the 17 health centers in Beira , all have had some kind of damage, according to the medical coordinator of Doctors Without Borders in Mozambique, Carina Perotti.

The floods have arrived just as the region’s harvest season began, so tens of thousands of hectares of basic goods have been lost, and everything can lead to a crisis of very serious food insecurity or even a famine. “Mozambique will continue to need international attention for much longer, and I am not talking about reconstruction, but about an exclusive period of assistance,” specified Graça Machel, former first lady of Nelson Mandela, on Saturday.

Antonio Anosso, head of humanitarian aid at Cáritas Mozambique, points out, to the entire Caritas network, that they still face some challenges to get information from Beira, because there is no communication. The highest priority for our staff is rescuing people, providing temporary housing and identifying the people affected. Although we lack sufficient resources to respond to the most urgent needs of food, water, shelter material and medicines. Cáritas Mozambique is preparing 1,500 blankets to send to Beira. Likewise, two teams from Cáritas have left from Maputo to the provinces of Sofala and Zambezia, the most affected, to carry out an identification of emergency needs.

The countries affected by cyclone Idai need humanitarian aid, to alleviate the great tragedy suffered by great floods and massive human and economic losses in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Thousands of hectares have been flooded, reflecting the lack of drainage systems that exist in these countries to evacuate surplus water in the shortest possible time and reduce economic damage and human losses, so it is necessary to prepare and improve the systems of drainage to cope with future floods, which will become increasingly aggressive as a result of climate change.

 

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