Resilience Lessons from 2019 Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth

Post Event Review Capability (PERC)

This series is based on a Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance Post Event Review Capability (PERC) study analyzing the 2019 Cyclone Idai impacts in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe and Cyclone Kenneth impacts in Mozambique.

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Bridging the divide

The tropical Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth weather systems, which made landfall in Southeast Africa in March and April 2019 respectively, brought catastrophic destruction and damage to communities across Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. Wind blew roofs off homes, rain destroyed mud-brick houses, floodwaters exceeding anything in historic memory inundated homes and fields, and landslides tore through communities.

 

​Cyclone Idai was the most devastating cyclone on record to hit Africa and the southern hemisphere. In early March, the precursor to Cyclone Idai, Tropical Depression 11, brought torrential rains and wind to southern and central Malawi. On March 9, the storm moved back out over the Mozambique Channel where it rapidly intensified before making landfall a second time, as Cyclone Idai, near the port city of Beira, Mozambique on March 15. Over the next few days, as the storm crossed Mozambique and moved inland, it released additional rain in Malawi and heavy rains across much of eastern Zimbabwe causing flooding, flash floods, and landslides. A month later cyclone Kenneth hit Mozambique as the strongest cyclone to hit that country.

Google Earth image of the landslides caused by Cyclone Ida rainfall, Chimanimani, Zimbabwe

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Cyclones Idai and Kenneth resulted in widespread humanitarian disaster. Such a disaster emphasizes the ever increasing and critical need to learn what happened during these events and what can be improved to reduce risk to future events. As climate change creates new hazards and intensifies existing hazards, proactive and collaborative efforts are needed across all levels from the local to national level and between communities, districts, provinces and countries to build resilience.

The above materials, prepared  by ISET-International together with other members of the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance - the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Practical Action (PA), and Zurich Insurance Group - and in collaboration with the Mozambique Red Cross and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), are part of a series of learnings from similar events, called the Post Event Review Capability, which the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance has been carrying out since 2013. This PERC methodology (publicly available at: https://www.floodresilience.net/perc) supports learning from events such as Cyclones Idai and Kenneth and identifies key actions for reducing future harm. 

Flooding in Malawi flickr photo by Arjan van de Merwe/UNDP shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND 2.0) license

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The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance is a multi-sectoral partnership focusing on finding practical ways to help communities in developed and developing countries strengthen their resilience to flood risk. Find out more: https://www.zurich.com/flood-resilience

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