In March 2019, Cyclone Idai hit the east coast of Africa. It was an unprecedented storm that devastated parts of southern Africa. Photos from Refugees International Senior Advocate for Women and Girls Devon Cone show the region recovering.
Cyclones Idai and Kenneth devastated Mozambique and Zimbabwe in March and April 2019. The cyclones demonstrate an ugly truth: climate change will affect Africa more severely than any other continent. That the two cyclones occurred at that time of year, with this severity, and in these locations was remarkable. As humanitarians continue to respond to the needs of storm survivors, including a looming food crisis affecting up to a third of the population in Zimbabwe, the region must also prepare for similar storms in the future.
At present, Zimbabwe’s future appears precariously poised on an edge. Two consecutive years of poor rains, compounded by El Niño, have resulted in the worst drought in 35 years. It is estimated that more than four million people will require emergency humanitarian aid to get them through to the end of the lean season in March 2017. Exacerbating the situation is the regional nature of the drought, along with an economic crisis, a shortage of cash, and growing political tensions.
Driving across the parched landscape of Matabeleland North in western Zimbabwe, it’s hard to imagine that this country was once the breadbasket of Southern Africa. The annual rainy season ended in March, and this is supposed to be the most food secure time of the year, when granaries and stomachs are full. But Zimbabwe is in the grips of a second year of drought, exacerbated by El Niño, which has left an estimated 4.5 million people – nearly half of the rural population – without sufficient food.