Mozambique’s historic double cyclone never before seen just north of my border leaves over 600 dead & four countries reeling
Just one month after Idai, the biggest cyclone in history to ever hit the east coast of Africa at Mozambique killing 600, a second category three cyclone, Kenneth, makes landfall killing another 40 people.
This is the worst natural disaster for my northern neighbor in its history. The fourth largest city - Beira - on the east coast of Mozambique has been flattened. Hospitals have been destroyed. There are never cyclones making landfall this far south in Africa, and this season two have struck in succession. This is like a Hurricane Harvey or Katrina that hit the US in recent years, but the international aid requested by the UN has not even reached 28% of needs. Within days billions of dollars were raised last week when Notre Dame cathedral burned, with zero injuries or fatalities. And yet here in Africa up the road from me we have an unprecedented disaster never before seen on earth, in a double dose, and yet aid relief is trifling.
The obvious reason why aid has been so scarce is because of corruption in Africa among the government sector, with a concern about whether the aid will reach its destination without being stolen on route. Mozambique recently had a major scandal where a top government minister was arrested abroad for alleged crimes of theft or corruption, which is endemic in Africa. Because of this 2 million people are right now urgently in need of drinking water, food and medication. The global aid response has been tragically slow.
The government might be to blame, but still millions are in the most dire circumstances. Cholera and Malaria are endemic to the region and as summer approaches disease is spreading. Aid agencies are sending out impassioned pleas for aid, but decades of structural problems in African government have eroded the path of good will from the international community. The tragedy is a black swan event with multiple angles of concern. One is the government corruption while the other is the massive climate shifts taking place at this point in history.
Mass destruction from wind and flooding has removed roofs of almost every single dwelling in the regions hit. Most of them are mud and straw huts really, in tropical and impoverished Mozambique. The devastation is even present on the small islands offshore where emergency workers have yet to reach victims stranded. Northern areas were hit in the recent strike, while Idai last month devastated the mid and southern regions. No part of the country has been left unaffected. Hundreds of thousands of people are in a desperate situation right now.
I don’t think the first world can even imagine the conditions and the tragedy. Such storms reaching 174 mph have occurred throughout the world before, but when the conditions are already at third world status and aid is absent, such a devastating cyclone is the worst possible event one can imagine. Thousands of families are desperate for their lives now, what to speak of schooling and work which has come to a standstill for possibly months to come. Entire towns remain under water right now as I write this. News is coming in as rescue workers reach stranded communities bit by bit. Four countries – Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and my own South Africa - have been hit by this tragedy, all losing lives from the cyclones.
One cyclone was already an unheard of historic event, so what would you call two such cyclones, 6 weeks apart? Is this a sign of climate change? These cyclones are usually found further north, but changes in ocean currents or temperatures are pushing them way south this year. This is not an anomaly but a trend potentially, and the poorest nations in the world are suffering along with the richest. The only problem is that the poorest are receiving negligible aid, and the nations may be set back years economically and developmentally as a result. Those that survive this disaster will be climate refugees for the immediate future as entire town lie ruined and may take months or years to rebuild, by which time people will have been obliged to relocate to survive.
It appears as if life will never be the same again for more and more people across the globe. And no one is immune. Nobody can predict where the next natural disaster will hit. Every continent and nation is at risk today under the current conditions. From South America to Australia, North America to India – all are being smashed almost every year now by floods or drought or fire or all three. And if food crops also take a hit in coming years as they are beginning to now, then the knock on effect of global food shortages will certainly have ripple effects to your supermarket and your personal life, until each and every one of us on the new planet earth of today, will be like a stranger in a strange land that used to be called home.