Cyclone Idai hits Malawi and Zimbabwe - GOAL Global Skip to content

Cyclone Idai hits Malawi and Zimbabwe


March 20, 2019 • 2 min read

Cyclone Idai could be the worst disaster the Southern Hemisphere has ever experienced.


"CYCLONE IDAI may be one of the worst cyclones to hit the area in recent years. The Cyclone has been destroying everything in its path with fierce winds of 170 kph, which swept in from the Indian Ocean destroying land and causing rivers to burst their banks in three sub-Saharan countries. The cyclone moved from Mozambique into neighbouring Malawi, wiping out homes and infrastructure as it continued into Zimbabwe, a country that is already facing an economic and food security crisis. Further severe rains are expected throughout the three countries before the true scale of this disaster can be even be evaluated."


Since Friday 15th March, Cyclone Idai has caused severe wind and rain in the Manicaland and Masvingo provinces of Zimbabwe.

The Chimanimani and Chipinge districts in Manicaland have been the hardest hit areas in the region. Chimanimani remains inaccessible as access bridges have been destroyed and people left stranded.

According to Government reports the death toll has risen to 172 people as of Tuesday, March 26th, with 189 reported as still missing and 200 injuries have been reported, mainly in Chimanimani. In total, at least 270,000 people have been affected and 4,500 people have been displaced as homes across several regions have been destroyed. Crops and livestock have been destroyed in affected areas.

The scale of destruction in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces is becoming clearer as access to the hardest-hit districts of Chimanimani and Chipinge gradually improves.

In Tongagora, Chipinge district, an area where GOAL carries out its programming, the destruction is devastating. At the Tongagora refugee camp, 1,100 housing shelters for 3,209 households have been completely or partially destroyed. A further 20,000 people living locally are also in need of help.


The precursor to Cyclone Idai hit Malawi a week before the cyclone made catastrophic landfall. At least 59 deaths and 672 injuries have been reported by the Malawi government. A state of disaster has been declared as assessments of the areas show that 868,900 people in 15 districts have been affected by the floods.

However, the East Bank of the Shire river, which burst its banks, is still inaccessible and thus the numbers of affected for Chikwawa and Nsanje districts are still understated. As the weather is predicted to settle down and become drier, GOAL continue to provide those within reach with food and non-food items such as plastic sheets, buckets, hygiene products and blankets.


Nearly 6,000 households are in need of shelter in the Nsanje district in Malawi. GOAL is responding with health outreach, nutrition screening, and non-food item distribution. Water sources have been destroyed meaning water needs to be treated to make it safe.
GOAL distribute non-food items in MalawiPeople in Malawi attempt to create new shelter following Cyclone IdaiFiona Gannon, GOAL’s Head of Programs said,  “Cyclone Idai has caused huge devastation and flooding across Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Millions of people are now in urgent need of humanitarian support, such as shelter and food. For people already living in vulnerable situations, the impact of this cyclone puts them at serious risk of hunger and disease.  GOAL responded immediately and have already started distributing essential items to communities affected. But we urgently need more support to help us reach more people”. With millions of people displaced from their homes, livelihoods will be destroyed and hundreds have already lost their lives. GOAL needs your support to reach as many people as possible in Zimbabwe and Malawi.