Southern Africa Countries Steps up Storm Preparedness Measures


Back in 2019, Zimbabwe and Mozambique saw a lot of destruction of property and loss of life caused by cyclones. Because of this, the two nations stepped up their storm preparedness measures last year when they got news of tropical storm Chalane. Government authorities and aid agencies ensured all possible measures to deal with the storm were put in place as they had learned their lessons from the cyclone in 2019.

The 2019 Cyclone and its Effects

In 2019 the southern Africa region was very hard hit. Two consecutive cyclones- Idai in March and Kenneth in April hit and devastated the people of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The cyclones brought unusually heavy rain and high winds to the Southern Africa region. The effects of the two caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people across the Southern Africa area. Additionally, the storms affected nearly 4 million individuals in Southern Africa countries.

Step up of Storm Preparedness During Cyclone Chalane

Before the arrival of cyclone Chalane in late December 2020, many in Mozambique and Zimbabwe thought the storm would cause great destruction. People and government authorities feared that property, lives, and infrastructure would be greatly affected. But when the storm hit, it weakened some days later and did not cause widespread damage.

However, the measures put in place during last year’s cyclone Chalane suggested that the disaster prevention measures had started to move forward. Zimbabwe and Mozambique deployed different beneficial measures to keep people safe ahead of the disaster. For instance, in Zimbabwe, people were kept safe through the easy transmission of information concerning the storm. Additionally, people got evacuated to shelters in designated schools, public halls, and churches. Before the storm, about 600 villagers receive free transportation by state buses, lorries, and even private tractors. The different vehicles took people to assembly points where after registration they went to evacuation centers.

Measures Deployed in Zimbabwe and Mozambique

The Mozambique government, on the other hand, deployed different measures of their own. In the provinces of Beira and Safala, some residents in vulnerable areas moved on their own to shelters near their homes. The Mozambique Red Cross, on the other hand, provided locals with advanced warnings concerning the storm. The Red Cross provided the same service during the cyclone in 2019, but the organization went a step further during the recent one in 2020. The organization also offered training and distributed kits to reinforce homes and schools ahead of the storm’s arrival.

The Zimbabwe government also used technology to keep its people safe ahead of the storm’s arrival. The technology used could send out warning messages, adapted to different communities’ needs to members of the public via short-wave radio, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter. Furthermore, the country also relayed messages to citizens in local languages such as Shona. The messages included a bullet-point list of how to prepare for the expected heavy rains.

Citizen Reports of Storm Preparedness by their Governments

Some Citizens of Zimbabwe reported that the authorities’ use of digital media to send messages proved to be very useful. The authorities sent hourly updates and maps showing where people could wait out the storm, mostly thanks to WhatsApp. Some other residents, however, reported that the use of cellphone-based messaging by the government caused them great misfortune. Some people used the means to spread fake news while thieves distorted WhatsApp messaged to clear out villages. When the thieves emptied villages, they looted small grocery shops and even stole cattle.

Villagers in Mozambique encouraged their government to improve their disaster prevention efforts even more. Because global warming is transforming normal seasonal rains into bad storms, the country expects frequent cyclones to occur. Due to this, villagers urged the government to form partnerships with richer countries with better weather services. Through the partnerships, the government could acquire data that could better warn of climate and weather extremes.



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