Marie Jose in Buzi central Mozambique lost her grandparents and niece who were unable to hang on to trees in their village and were were blown into the water during Cyclone Idai. She was unable to grieve for her relatives as the cyclone wiped out her crop and had to focus on trying to replant crops and survive.
More than 700,000 hectares of crops were destroyed across the country during the cyclone affecting countless farmers. Despite the efforts of relief workers and organisations like the World Food Program to distribute seed and emergency food aid – there will always be gaps and hungry and starvation is a grim reality.
As well as crop the cyclone killed over 800 people, as well as leaving many homeless and destitute, cholera cases in the country now top 1,400.
Tragically Cyclone Idai was swiftly followed by Cyclone Kenneth which hit the country just a month later hampering the recovery efforts and affecting many more people, the final death toll is still unknown.
Disasters like Idai are predicted to rise in number and intensity as warming air and water across the globe creates the ideal conditions for more extreme weather.
How then can Africa and the rest of the world become more resilient in face of these risks?
One answer lies in programs like Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED). This programmed backed for now by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) – funds projects that will help communities deal with extreme weather.
For example in Niamey, Niger rice farmers have been hit by heavy flooding in recent years, killing 54. No effort has been made to map the most afflicted areas – until an intiative led by the Catholic Relief Services & BRACED backed helped created disaster committees in each community which would report from remote areas on what help is required when disaster strikes.
The communities would also provide on the ground intelligence regarding flooding and weather conditions so a more accurate picture of how disasters are affecting the region could be successfully built.
The World Bank have a Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance Program (DRFI) which assists developing countries develop financial protection strategies. DRFI covers four key areas:
1. Sovereign Disaster Risk Finance – this enhances the financial capacity of a government to meet post disaster funding. Kenya for example has a US$200 million credit line on standby in case of disaster. As part of the package Kenya improved its policy framework for managing natural hazard risks.
2. Market development – this helps the government implement policy to create financial resilience against disasters.
3. Analytics – this strengthens government’s ability to analyse disaster risk finance. For example in Mozambique
4. Knowledge management and global partnerships – this helps provide stakeholders with information that will build financial resilience. The World Bank’s ADRF initiative has organised 60 forums and training sessions to help transfer knowledge and improve disaster recovery capacity.
All these initiatives should help Africa become more resilient to natural disasters which are expected to become more widespread and damaging as climate breakdown accelerates.