Tropical Cyclone Idai causing flooding in Southern Africa

Tropical Cyclone Idai causing flooding in Southern Africa (Featured)

  • Overview

    Intense Tropical Cyclone Idai is regarded as one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere as a whole. The long-lived storm caused catastrophic damage in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, leaving more than 700 people dead and hundreds more missing.In the Southern Hemisphere, it currently ranks as the second or third deadliest tropical cyclone on record.

    On 14 March 2019, Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall near Beira City, leaving devastating loss of life and large-scale destruction of assets and infrastructure in its wake. In the following days, entire villages were submerged underwater as floodwaters rose. Thousands of people were stranded on roofs and trees. Entire swathes of crops were damaged – with nearly 500,000 hectares flooded – and severe loss of livestock is expected, exacerbating food insecurity across the central region of the country.

    Idai brought strong winds and caused severe floods to Southern Africa, killing 788 people – 468 in Mozambique, 259 in Zimbabwe, 60 in Malawi, and one in Madagascar – and affected more than 3 million others. A major humanitarian crisis unfolded in the wake of the cyclone, with hundreds of thousands of people in urgent need of assistance across Mozambique and Zimbabwe. In the former nation, rescuers were forced to let some people die in order to save others. Infrastructural damages from Idai across Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Malawi were estimated to be at least US$1 billion (2019 USD), making Idai the costliest tropical cyclone in the South-West Indian Ocean basin.

    Many families were separated as they fled the rising flood waters. Tens of thousands of people were displaced, many having to flee with nothing as the waters rose rapidly. Children, the elderly and people with disabilities who are less mobile are likely to have been left behind or stranded, while women are expected to have borne the brunt of the storm, as they strove to save their households and livelihoods. Overall, it is estimated that 1.85 million people are in need of urgent assistance.



    The Humanitarian Response Plan has been reviewed to respond to the most immediate and life-saving needs arising from Cyclone Idai over a three month period, along with sustained response to the pre-existing needs in drought-affected areas.


    Businesses are a major contributor to humanitarian action. Some ways you can contribute:

    1. Making a financial contribution: The humanitarian community considers financial contributions to reputable aid organizations participating in the international humanitarian coordination mechanisms as one of the most valuable and effective form of response. OCHA-managed pooled funds are considered to be one of the most efficient mechanisms of humanitarian financing e.g. CERF.
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    2. Making an in-kind donation of products or services.

    3. Engaging in the Connecting Business initiative. The Connecting Business initiative – a private sector-driven, UN-supported multi-stakeholder alliance that engages the private sector strategically and holistically before, during and after emergencies, strengthening the overall resilience of communities.

    4. Making a commercial offer. If your offer is commercial in nature, please go to for more information.

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    Photo credit: Denis Onyodi & Karel Prinsloo


    Other Responses

    You are welcome to propose other ways of providing support in response to this humanitarian crisis. To ensure your offer has the greatest chance of being utilised, it will be sent to a wider group of organisations that are active in the humanitarian relief operations, including UN agencies and charities / NGOs.

    Propose your idea