Cyclone Idai: Full extent of humanitarian emergency still emerging

Topics: Africa, Emergencies and Disasters Worldwide
March 15, 2019

Group of people staying out of the rainPhoto: Mozambique Red Cross

After bracing for impact for nearly a week, the people of Mozambique took a direct hit from Cyclone Idai after it made landfall overnight on March 14, 2019 near the populated port city of Beira.

Heavy rains have already displaced hundreds of people in provinces such as Zambezia and Tete. Over 100,000 people have been affected by the weather system and floods since the beginning of the month, which have also affected southern Malawi and eastern Zimbabwe. The full extent of the damage is not yet known, and the cyclone is expected to result in further devastation.

Many families urgently need temporary shelters, especially those whose houses have been completely or partly destroyed.

There are also concerns about the long-term effects of the ongoing floods on food security. Over 80,300 hectares of crops in Zambezia and Tete have been ravaged by the ongoing floods. This has severely affected the livelihoods of more than 50,000 families reliant on agriculture.


As many as 400,000 people are believed to have been displaced.

The Mozambique Red Cross has been on the ground focussing on early warning actions and preparing communities for the impact of the storm.

In Tete and Zambezia, Mozambique Red Cross has mobilized more than 200 volunteers to share information, provide support to evacuation centres, and distribute essential items.

Families whose houses have been destroyed will require emergency relief items, including blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen sets, and mosquito nets to ensure that their immediate needs are met.

Mozambique Prone to Cyclones

Mozambique is regularly hit by cyclones. In February 2007, Cyclone Favio damaged or destroyed 130,000 homes and displaced tens of thousands of people. In 2000, Cyclone Eline hit an already flood-affected central Mozambique, leaving about 463,000 people homeless. Together, the floods and the cyclone killed about 700 people.

The strength of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is our combination of community-based and global support.

When an emergency is too severe for local support systems to respond, the global Red Cross response can be initiated quickly. Just like in Canada, there are local volunteers rapidly mobilizing across affected areas to support the needs of vulnerable communities. The Canadian Red Cross remains on stand-by to provide additional support as needed.

Donate to the Cyclone Idai Appeal

Canadians wishing to support the people affected by this devastating disaster can make a financial donation to the Cyclone Idai Appeal. Money raised will enable the Red Cross to provide relief, recovery, and resiliency activities in response to this disaster.