Aerial view of flooded town
Cyclone Idai has caused a massive natural disaster and killed hundreds of people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. (Photo: Instituto Nacional de Gestão de Calamidades - INGC)
All NIRAS staff members in Mozambique are safe after cyclone Idai

All NIRAS staff members in Mozambique are safe after cyclone Idai

Cyclone Idai caused a massive natural disaster and killed hundreds of people in southeastern Africa. After ensuring staff are safe, NIRAS is assisting in relief efforts and preparing the next steps together with clients and partners.

22. Mar 2019

“We have been in contact with all NIRAS’s staff members in Mozambique, and they have all reported that they, and their families are safe and sound after the disaster caused by typhoon Idai,” says Bruna Lopes Afonso, Business Development Manager for NIRAS in Mozambique.

NIRAS has 12 ongoing projects in Mozambique, 3 of which are located or have ongoing activities in the affected areas. NIRAS has seven staff members in Beira, but they have been evacuated and relocated to other cities.

“We are in close cooperation with our clients and partners to assess next steps and more should follow. But we have not yet been able to assess the real damages to NIRAS’ projects. Great parts of the central provinces of Mozambique are still a disaster area. The main priority now is to save lives and to secure food, water, cleaning kits, medicines, shelter and sanitation for the survivors,” says Ms. Afonso.

“For now, our staff is helping with what they can e.g. donations and joining volunteer groups to assist on packaging kits to send to the affected areas.”

UN: ‘Possibly worst disaster in Southern Hemisphere’

The cyclone Idai made landfall near the coastal city of Beira on March 15, causing massive damages. UN sources called the typhoon “possibly the worst natural disaster in the Southern hemisphere.”

According to International Red Cross 90% of Beira – Mozambique’s second largest city with 500,000 inhabitants – was destroyed or damaged.

The aid agency has estimated that some 400,000 people have been made homeless due to the storm.

President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique said that some 1000 persons could have been killed, but the figures are not confirmed. Thousands of people are still trapped in trees and on roof tops with relief agencies fighting to get people in safety.

With contaminated water everywhere and with no access to clean drinking water, there is also a risk of outbreaks of cholera and other waterborne diseases. Small children are especially vulnerable to diarrhea.

Infrastructure and communications collapsed

The infrastructure in central Mozambique and neighbouring Malawi and Zimbabwe has been massively affected.

Numerous bridges have collapsed and roads have been washed away, which has made relief work very difficult. There are also reports that entire villages have been engulfed by water.

The communications networks have also collapsed, which makes it extremely difficult to access the disaster zones and provide emergency aid to people in need.

Flooding expected to continue

Great parts of central part of Mozambique are still flooded, with some areas reportedly under six meters of water.

“Dams are getting under increased pressure, and they may be forced to pen their floodgates, which could cause even further damage. Thousands have lost their homes and their livelihoods, so we have just seen the beginning of this crisis,” says Ms. Afonso.

Heavy rains have continued to fall in Zimbabwe and Malawi, and it will cause the flooding to continue for days.

“On NIRAS side, we are 100% committed to supporting Mozambique during this difficult time. We have a long history of development work in several areas, so Mozambique is close to our heart. We are ready to assist in the next planned steps together with our clients, partners and staff,” says Ms. Afonso.