Cyclone Idai shows the vulnerability of low-lying African cities

Cities that are geographically low-lying are particularly endangered to increasingly extreme weather conditions
An aerial view shows a destroyed factory in Buzi, central Mozambique, on March 20, 2019 after the passage of the cyclone Idai. – International aid agencies raced on March 20 to rescue survivors and meet spiralling humanitarian needs in three impoverished countries battered by one of the worst storms to hit southern Africa in decades. Five days after tropical cyclone Idai cut a swathe through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, the confirmed death toll stood at more than 300 and hundreds of thousands of lives were at risk, officials said. (Photo by ADRIEN BARBIER / AFP)

Cyclone Idai has so far claimed over 300 lives in Mozambique and Zimbabwe according to official reports, and there are genuine concerns that a little over a thousand people may have also lost their lives as rescue operations continue.

The intense tropical cyclone hit Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi on the 15th of March 2019. The extent of the damage which is still being unravelled has sent shock waves all over the continent.

According to Red Cross reports, the Cyclone submerged 90 percent of the entire city of Beira which also happens to be the fourth-largest city in Mozambique. The river banks of Pungue and Buzi overflowed drowning out entire villages. Mudslides from Mount Chiluvo rolled down to devastate others.

People are escorted to safety by aid workers at the airport of the coastal city of Beira in central Mozambique (Photo by ADRIEN BARBIER / AFP)

Cyclone Idai comes second as the deadliest storm since Cyclone Eline in the year 2000, which resulted in about 700 deaths.

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President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique yesterday spoke on Radio Mozambique after embarking on a helicopter ride over the affected areas. He confessed that it was indeed a real disaster of great proportions, postulating that more than 1,000 deaths will be registered.

Eighty-nine people have been pronounced dead and hundreds are yet to be discovered in the eastern province of Manicaland. Econet, the United Nations and Telecoms Company have come to the nation’s aid.

Infrastructural damage on a large-scale and an absence of valuable resources have made it difficult for flood victims to be reached by rescuers.

The official death toll stands at 56, in Malawi. A South African aid organization named Gift of the Givers has committed to a partnership with the Malawian Defense forces and disaster agencies to help the 1,100 affected families.

A man cleans up a destroyed house on March 19, 2019 in Chimanimani, as a hundred houses were damaged by the Cyclone Idai. (Photo by ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP)

Mami Mizutori, the UN’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction described Cyclone Idai as the worst extreme weather event to occur so far this year, he continues to urge affected countries to break the cycle of disaster-response-recovery.

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Cities that are low-lying by virtue of geographical nature are particularly endangered to increasingly extreme weather conditions, making it all the more difficult for these areas to recover after each consecutive storm.

 The advent of Cyclone Idai underlines that early warnings, unfortunately, may never be enough as there is still a mammoth demand for increased investment in infrastructure in many parts of the globe.

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