Mozambique: Beira, world’s first city destroyed by climate change


A focus on global warming and on cyclone idai that devastated Mozambique. The Mozambican city of Beira is the first city in the world to be completely destroyed by global warming if one relies on the particular geographical situation of the country. All the researchers warned: this region of the Indian Ocean is going to be increasingly hit by cyclones and tropical storms.

“Beira enters history as the first city completely destroyed by climate change. People (International AIDS) will have to stay in the long term, not a few weeks as we often see. »  

Beyond the fragility of the country, the catastrophe triggered by Cyclone idai raises the question of the responsibility of the international community. Some of them had the message. “A few days before the cyclone, the authorities passed with megaphones on the streets to tell us to caulk. It was on television and radio too, says José Batio, to John Segredo. This family man lived a few meters from the part of the road linking the city of Beira to the rest of Mozambique, a path destroyed in mid-March by the floods caused by Cyclone idai. In his home, the water was suddenly climbed at night, and he just had time to take refuge on the roof of his neighbor to see his house swallowed up by the waves. “We would have wanted to flee before, but to go where?” he questioned retrospectively.

Two weeks after cyclone idai passes, the damage remains considerable in Mozambique and neighbouring countries. Beira, one of the largest cities in Mozambique, has been almost completely destroyed. For humanitarian associations, Beira would be one of the first cities in the world to suffer as much damage due to climate change.

On 14 March 2019, Cyclone idai struck the city of Beira and its 500 000 inhabitants in Mozambique, flooding soils, crops and dwellings in its passage, to continue its destructive race in neighbouring countries. Two weeks after its passage, the situation remains precarious on the affected areas: 3 125km2 have been flooded in particular farmland, and people live in unhealthy conditions with the onset of a cholera epidemic. In the first estimates, the storm killed more than 500 people in Mozambique, and 250 in Zimbabwe.  In both countries and Malawi, the United Nations has identified nearly 3 million victims.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) estimates that 90% of the city of Beira has been destroyed or damaged by the cyclone. The hurricane’s unexpected rise in power has made it one of the largest climatic disasters ever in Africa according to the UN. In particular, Cyclone idai was strengthened by the warming of the Indian Ocean. Thus, despite the fact that the population was warned several days before, idai’s striking force made it an inevitable climatic event.

Cyclone idai, which hit the Mozambican coast on the night of 14 and 15 March, made 468 deaths in Mozambique and over 250 in Zimbabwe. A heavy balance sheet already, although still tentative, which for many Mozambicans is explained by the inefficiency and unpreparedness of the Government of this country, one of the ten poorest countries in the world.

Colossal damage

After the humanitarian emergency, here comes the time of questioning. Not the first time a tropical cyclone hit Mozambique. Not the first time flood kills massively. As early as 1999, the Mozambican Institute for natural disaster management (INGC) was created to respond to this type of disaster and especially to develop alert systems.

So, a few days before idai hit Beira, the Government triggered the red alert. The population was informed, the areas immediately at risk were evacuated. “All of our mechanisms were activated and worked pretty well, we did everything we could,” says INGC Director Augusta Maita. Humanitarians and the Government hammer it: the magnitude and intensity of idai, any country would have experienced colossal damage. Because it has so well targeted the city of Beira and its 500 000 inhabitants, and because it continued its destructive journey upstream of the rivers that overflowed, idai has turned into a “perfect storm”, one of the biggest climatic disasters ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, according to the United Nations. It does not prevent: the number of anticyclonic shelters installed in recent years is minimal and the work only of cooperation agencies.

Graça Machel, a Mozambican political figure, told the journal Le Monde: “Beira enters history as the first city completely destroyed by climate change. People (International AIDS) will have to stay in the long term, not a few weeks as we often see. The NGO Amnesty International urges the international community to prepare for the increasingly severe consequences of climate change:

“The devastation caused by Cyclone idai is another alarm signal launched to the whole world to put in place ambitious measures to mitigate climate change.

The case of Mozambique and cyclone idai is significant in strengthening inequalities in the effects of climate change, with countries living in areas with extreme climatic events being among the most vulnerable.

“Regional leaders and Governments in richer countries must support effective early warning, disaster preparedness and adaptation to climate change systems to save lives and protect human rights. »

Today, FAO is launching a call for help for farmers and fishermen affected by the cyclone. “As the waters recede, keeping the animals alive, rehabilitating the raved lands and restarting agricultural production are paramount objectives in a country where 80% of the population depends on agriculture,” FAO said. 






Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here