In Mozambique, in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, cholera cases among survivors have increased to 271 in Beira alone. Despite aid efforts already underway, including Can$3.5 million pledged by Canada’s government, the amount of aid that has been either delivered or promised is widely viewed as falling far short of the high level of need. The World Food Programme has estimated that they require $140 million to feed vulnerable people for three months. However, only $57 million has been pledged up to this point, with an even smaller $3.9 million delivered so far. A vaccination campaign is about to be initiated, with the World Health Organization stating that about 900,000 cholera vaccine doses are expected to arrive on Monday.
Three Indian Navy training vessels were in the Indian Ocean, near Mozambique, on a training mission, when Cyclone Idai struck. They were diverted to the port city of Beira in response to a request from Mozambique. A statement by India’s Ministry of External Affairs said, “As of now, the Indian naval crew has rescued more than 192 people. Medical assistance has been provided to 1,381 persons in medical camps set up by the Indian Navy.” Indian naval captain Varun Singh stated, “People needed help. Our presence, it was a great relief for them. The sight of somebody – they were sure now the relief will start coming in.” David Beasley, director of the World Food Programme, visited Beira and said, “I’ve been fussing with the media around the world that all you want to talk about is Brexit, Brexit, Trump, Trump, and we’ve got people dying.” He added, “Children are going to die and families are going to starve to death if we don’t get the supplies they need.”
Despite some efforts being made to assist, including many people working on the ground level helping survivors in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, there is very high and critical level of need that greatly exceeds the actual quantity resources provided on the part of the international community. The aforementioned lack of media focus on the crisis, while other stories that are more tangible to Western audiences dominate, can definitely be viewed as a factor that stymies the delivery of aid. Another factor that has contributed to the aid shortfall in Mozambique is corruption. The relative lack of international mobilization can be attributed to high levels of corruption in Mozambique, which has left the international community distrustful of making significant efforts to provide aid. Beira’s mayor, Daviz Simango, who is also the leader of the opposition Democratic Movement of Mozambique party, has stated that Mozambique’s government failed to warn people in the worst-hit areas prior to the cyclone’s landfall, despite a red alert being issued a couple of days before. He said, “Mozambique was not prepared. There were no boats, there were no helicopters, no means of saving lives. Most of the people saved were rescued by help coming from outside. The internal capacity to respond immediately to disasters like this is zero, and the result is that with every new day, the list of the dead is updated.” Beira itself has been largely destroyed after Cyclone Idai, but the death toll there has only hit 20, while it is much higher in other places. Issues of corruption and the lack of institutional capacity, such that a large reliance on foreign assistance is required, points to systematic issues in Mozambique that make it very poorly equipped to handle this crisis, as well as other future crises, which could pose even greater threats given the impacts of climate change.
Cyclone Idai hit the coast of Mozambique on 14 March, 2019. The death toll is over 500 in Mozambique, while 259 people died in Zimbabwe and 56 died in Malawi. The Category 2 storm and the flooding associated with it has also led to widespread destruction of homes and possessions. Diarrhea cases have increased, and cholera and malaria are major concerns.
Cyclone Idai is profound in how it has devastated the affected countries, including Mozambique, so quickly. It serves as a reminder of the impacts of climate change, which can be more devastating and noticeable in poorer countries that already have major issues like infrastructure problems and widespread corruption. The United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Africa estimates that Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi have lost $1 billion in infrastructure because of damage from the cyclone. Aid groups believe the death toll in Mozambique will far exceed the official numbers. The impacts of climate change are such that efforts made by Mozambique to combat natural disasters, including warning systems and coastal embankments, which themselves were limited due to funding issues, did not prevent widespread devastation from occurring. It is evident that more comprehensive and urgent interventions are needed to mitigate current and future climate change crises, as part of a global strategy to combat the issue. More immediate aid to address this current crisis, along with infrastructure program funding, are important to address the aftermath of this cyclone and protect people from future problems.
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