Flooding of the Buzi area, a town and district south of Beira city in Mozambique. The flooding is due to the Idai cyclone that hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in March 2019. (Photo: OCHA/Saviano Abreu)
Read caption Flooding of the Buzi area, a town and district south of Beira city in Mozambique. The flooding is due to the Idai cyclone that hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in March 2019. (Photo: OCHA/Saviano Abreu)

Gearing up for Idai

Afroza Mahzabeen Anannya/Ida Sem Fossvik|Published 01. Apr 2019
NORCAP sends the first four experts to support UN agencies in the cyclone Idai response this week. The tropical storm recently hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, leaving more than 750 people dead, more than 140,000 people displaced, and devastated large parts of the three countries.

Tropical Cyclone Idai is one of the worst weather-related crises to affect the African continent with devastating impact in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.  

Since the disaster, NORCAP has prepared their response to an increasing number of requests for expertise from UN partners in Mozambique and Malawi. We have received a total of 150 requests to cover protection, coordination, water, sanitation and hygiene, communication, logistics, shelter, nutrition, health and so forth.  

The first four experts starts this week; one emergency health specialist to Lilongwe in Malawi, one ProCap expert to Maputo in Mozambique, and two ACAPS deployees to Beira, which is also in Mozambique.  

Many want to contribute

“In situations like these, our experts quickly reach out to let us know about their availability. They are eager to contribute to the response which enables us to respond rapidly. In the coming weeks, more people will be deployed to this crisis,” says Benedicte Giæver, NORCAP Executive Director.  

At the same time, our recruitment team is working to recruit additional experts, particularly Portuguese- and Spanish-speakers.  

“We received 140 applications within the first three days after publishing the ad, which is a record high for us,” says Peder Apall-Olsen, Head of Recruitment in NORCAP.  

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs last week gave NORCAP with 5 million NOK in additional funding to respond to the emergency. 

Early warnings not enough

When the cyclone hit, NORCAP had one deployee on mission in the area. Tasiana Mzozo helped inform people in advance the cyclone.  

“We warned people by sending out weather updates through radio, TV and mobile phones. Even though the services were efficient, the disaster was too big,” she says.  

Mzozo works as a project manager to the National Meteorological Office in Malawi and has collaborated closely with the Department of climate change and meteorological services.

In Malawi, the cyclone lead to heavy and persistent rain, which caused severe flooding across districts in the southern part of the country. More than 700.000 people have been affected, and close to 76.000 people are displaced.

Combined efforts key to response

While humanitarian organisations help people with food, water, urgent medical services and health care, the climate sector is looking at how they can cooperate better to build long-term resilience.

“Disasters happen over and over, and even though we have the information we need, we cannot always know the level and scale of impact. Thus, proper planning and preparedness are important to deal with these devastating disasters,” says Mzozo.

Integrating climate services, such as coproduction of climate information in policies, plans and strategies on both local and national level can play a key role in reducing the impact disasters have on people. This includes disaster risk management and sustainable action.  Regional cooperation is also vital to reduce risk of cross border disaster such as cyclone Idai.

“Working together in the aftermath of  disasters are vital to ensure that people get the information they need and are better prepared for future disasters. That is protection in practice,” Tasiana Mzozo says.  

Food distribution by World Food Programme in Buzi, one of the areas affected by the Idai cyclone in Mozambique. (Photo: OCHA/Saviano Abreu)
Read caption Food distribution by World Food Programme in Buzi, one of the areas affected by the Idai cyclone in Mozambique. (Photo: OCHA/Saviano Abreu)