March 28, 2019 • 4 min read

Cyclone Idai is one of the worst disasters the southern hemisphere has ever experienced says the UN


"We have almost 800 deaths reported, hundreds of thousands of livelihoods wiped out and an estimated 2.5 million people affected by Cyclone Idai – and that’s only what we know so far."

It is two weeks since the Intense Tropical Cyclone Idai hit the Southeast African countries of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe and we still don’t have a full picture of the horror. But as the situation continues to unfold, it is clear that the scale of this tragedy is overwhelmingly larger than anyone had initially anticipated.
Staff on the ground have heard reports starting to filter back of whole villages that have been destroyed, leaving thousands of bodies behind – most of the inhabitants wiped out.
The UN says the final casualty figure will only be known once the floods have receded. But even without the full picture, the extent of the initial human loss of life makes this one of the worst disasters the southern hemisphere has ever witnessed.
Our priority now is to urgently attend to the initial survivors – to try and prevent any further loss of life by providing food, medical care and more. For those who have managed to escape from the path of this catastrophic Cyclone, they are still far from safe.

GOAL’s Chris Boucher has been to Malawi where he was part of the rapid response team distributing basic survival supplies – like food, water and blankets.
Cholera outbreaks are our next most imminent threat. People have fled the flood waters and their destroyed villages, on mass. Sanitation systems have been completely wiped out. Water supplies are contaminated.
We have thousands trying to shelter in areas that are not even suitable for a hundred. We urgently need to put in place basic sanitation systems to help avoid the spread of water borne diseases.
Because people are surviving outdoors, without any protection, they are incredibly vulnerable to contracting Malaria. For those without adequate shelter, we are distributing nets to protect them.
We have people searching for missing family, vulnerable children, orphaned or separated from their parents. Pregnant women who can’t access clinics to safely give birth. Livelihoods wiped out. Schools destroyed.
Luckily, we had existing teams on the ground in Zimbabwe and Malawi, like Gabriella Prandini’s, that are rapidly responding to the crisis – distributing emergency supplies in the areas that need them most. And another team who have just hit the ground in Mozambique, to assess how best to respond to the emergency needs.
14th March 2019: Intense Tropical Cyclone, Idai, reaches peak intensity of 195km/h and makes landfall near Beira, Mozambique causing catastrophic damage and bringing days of severe winds, torrential rains and disastrous flooding across the country and through Malawi and Zimbabwe.

17th March 2019: The loss of life in the wake of Idai is devastating. Our teams on the ground start assessing the destruction and the urgent needs of the survivors as we mobilise to get more emergency supplies to them, more support to those affected. News reports of at hundreds dying in Malawi and Zimbabwe start filtering through.

19th March 2019: Five days after the storm, the UN releases a statement warning that the emergency is getting bigger by the hour, as the full scale of the devastation is becoming clearer. Victims are still trapped on roofs and clinging to trees awaiting rescue as flooding resembles ‘island oceans’ in parts. Millions are affected, it’s feared up to 1,000 maybe dead. Access remains the biggest challenge for aid agencies like us.

21st March 2019: GOAL launches its emergency appeal, asking for help from the Irish public to respond to this catastrophic crisis. Food is an immediate need along with the threat of cholera and typhoid outbreaks. GOAL’s Chris Boucher is part of GOAL’s rapid response team on the ground distributing emergency items like food, cooking utensils, buckets and jerrycans.

23rd March 2019: The response to GOAL’s initial public appeal for support has been amazing. But as the devastating effects continue to be unveiled across Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique the humanitarian situation is worsening. The confirmed death toll has now climbed to 670, but the real toll is still feared to be much higher.

26th March 2019: Following reports from our staff in the field, we issue a fresh appeal and warning – that the impact of by Cyclone Idai is being hugely underestimated. Our GOAL staff and partners on the ground are bracing for the spread of disease, including cholera and malaria and are distributing emergency supplies to those most in need as quickly as they can get it in. But we need to send more.GOAL distributes aid in ZimbabweA woman who has lost her home and livelihood comes to GOAL for assistance