Description of the disaster
In March 2019, southern Africa was hit by a tropical cyclone, rated amongst the worst ever experienced in the continent.
Named cyclone Idai, the disaster was a result of a tropical depression which originated on of the east coast of Mozambique and swept through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi as a category 2 storm moving at above 105mph, leaving behind a trail of destruction including loss of human lives and massive destruction to property, animals and crops along its way. The cyclone stroke as strong winds and heavy rains which led to flash floods, landslides and rock falls.
The cyclone pummeled the Eastern parts of Zimbabwe mainly Chimanimani and parts of Chipinge on the 15 of March at night, with less preparedness by the local communities as well as the government. The timing of its striking at night exacerbated the vulnerability of the communities including government response as many were not only unprepared but asleep with little reaction time to organize themselves and find hiding places free from the hazard. The heavy rains continued to 20 March 2019 hampering all rescue efforts. The cyclone was declared state of disaster by the president of Zimbabwe His Excellency E. D Mnangagwa on 15 March 2019. The cyclone affected four provinces namely, Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands and Mashonaland East.
The storm affected more than 270 000 people leaving 341 dead and many others missing. 17 608 households were left homeless, 12 health facilities damaged, water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure were damaged, 139 schools were affected, 33 primary schools and 10 secondary schools were temporarily closed, and 9 084 learners were affected. In agriculture, more than 50% land under maize crop, banana plantation and tubers like yams was wiped away, 18 irrigation schemes affected, at least 362 cattle and 514 goats and sheep, 17000 chicken were lost whilst 86 dipping facilities were damaged. Road infrastructure was grossly damaged with above 90% of road networks in Chimanimani and Chipinge damaged and 584 km of roads being damaged by landslides. Bridges were also swept away.
There was an urgent need for activation of search and rescue teams, and provision of non-food items (NFIs), food, shelter and psycho-social support. Many organizations immediately embarked on resource mobilization and there was Final Report Zimbabwe: Tropical Cyclone Idai a multi-organizational response, some went directly to the affected areas whilst others supported through the government.