Tropical Cyclones Idai and Kenneth

Cyclone Idai
Cyclone Idai caused catastrophic flooding in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, leaving at least 600,000 people in need of assistance.
Adrien Barbier / AFP
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Key Developments

USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) is responding to catastrophic flooding caused by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, as well as Cyclone Kenneth in Mozambique and Comoros.  

As of July 18, 2019, approximately 75,000 people remained internally displaced in Mozambique’s cyclone-affected Manica, Sofala, Tete, and Zambezia provinces, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). As efforts by the Government of the Republic of Mozambique (GRM) to relocate households affected by Cyclone Idai persist, relief actors continue to advocate for the safe, dignified, and voluntary movement of populations from accommodation centers to resettlement areas. Humanitarian organizations are also calling for continued coordination with the GRM to ensure resettlement sites are equipped to accommodate resettled populations, noting that some sites lack sufficient access to basic services.

Food security continues to be a major concern in cyclone-affected areas of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. In Mozambique, approximately 1.65 million people nationwide were in need of humanitarian food assistance as of July due to the combined effects of cyclones, drought, and ongoing violence in Cabo Delgado Province. In Zimbabwe, more than 2.3 million people nationwide are experiencing severe food insecurity caused by poor crop production--due in part to the effects of Tropical Cyclone Idai--and the country’s ongoing economic crisis. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) continues to provide emergency food assistance in affected areas in coordination with the GRM and the Government of Zimbabwe.

Relief actors had provided food assistance to approximately 250,000 people across all areas of Zimbabwe affected by Cyclone Idai as of May 21, the UN reports. The figure includes approximately 160,000 people in Manicaland’s Chimanimani and Chipinge districts, where Tropical Cyclone Idai caused significant damage to crops and irrigation systems; the storm affected more than 11,000 hectares under crop production in the two districts, according to the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ). As of May 21, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was continuing efforts to repair six damaged irrigation systems in Chimanimani and Chipinge.


Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall over Mozambique’s city of Beira, Sofala Province, on March 15, producing torrential rains and strong winds and severely affecting Manica, Sofala, Tete, and Zambézia provinces. The cyclone also caused significant flooding, damage and destruction of property and infrastructure, and resulted in numerous deaths in southern Malawi’s Chichawa, Nsanje, Phalombe, and Zomba districts and Zimbabwe’s Manicaland Province. The same weather system had previously brought heavy rains that caused significant flooding in Malawi and Mozambique in early March. Subsequently, on April 25, Tropical Cyclone Kenneth made landfall over Mozambique’s Quissanga District, Cabo Delgado Province, with winds estimated at 140 miles per hour and producing torrential rains in Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces. Prior to reaching Mozambique, Tropical Cyclone Kenneth had passed north of the Union of Comoros’ Grande Comore Island, causing widespread damage throughout much of the country.

USAID has provided more than $91 million to support disaster response efforts in Comoros, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe in 2019. USAID funding initially focused on emergency response efforts and immediate support for affected communities; more recently, USAID partners and other relief organizations have transitioned from emergency relief to longer-term recovery and resilience-building programs. USAID activated a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) on March 20, which traveled to Mozambique to oversee USAID response activities; the DART was deactivated on May 18 as the initial emergency phase of the disaster concluded.

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Last updated: August 14, 2019

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