Cyclone Idai

Massive flooding in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe



Tropical cyclone Idai hit southern African countries Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi on 14 and 15 March 2019. The heavy rain storms and flooding have left more than 3 million people in the region homeless. Now the first Cholera cases have been confirmed.


Cholera is an infectious disease that comes from drinking contaminated water and leads to diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration.


Cyclone Idai had started as a tropical depression in Malawi bringing heavy rains and strong winds with windspeeds up to 170km/h/ or 106mph. After Mozambique, the cyclone moved to Zimbabwe where it caused significant damage to housing, schools and water systems.


The heavy rains and winds of up to 170km/h (106mp/h) destroyed the Mozambican port city of Beira. Beira is Mozambique’s fourth largest city. Alone in Mozambique more than 2 million people including almost 1 million children lost their homes and at least 686 people were killed by the disastrous storms which led to widespread flooding.


In Beira indicate that more than 2,600 classrooms have been destroyed and 39 health centers impacted. At least 11,000 houses have been totally destroyed. A school has been turned into a shelter for displaced families. Classrooms have been converted into overcrowded bedrooms with limited access to water and sanitation. A UNICEF warehouse was severely damaged in the cyclone, causing the loss of essential supplies.


UNICEF, United Nations children’s fund, is concerned that flooding and the desperate living conditions in the shelters will lead to diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea and malaria. The shelters are overcrowded, there is a lack of clean running water and food, poor hygiene and due to the flooding also lots of stagnant water and infected water sources, so people are at high risk of these diseases.


“The situation will get worse before it gets better. Entire villages have been submerged, buildings have been flattened, and schools and health care centers have been destroyed.” (Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Exceutive director) “We will initially need $30 million in the first stage of the response and look to our public and private donors to be generous to the thousands of children and families who need support.”

The Government of Mozambique declared a national emergency due to the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai. Many areas are still not accessible and the final number of victims will be much higher.


Many countries including neighbouring countries South Africa and Tanzania as well as Britain und the EU countries, the USA and United Arab Emirates have donated millions of dollars of aid for food and water, emergency shelters and healthcare.


Donations can be made via the UNICEF website here.


source: AfricaNews and UNICEF

image: © UNICEF/Prinsloo

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