Mozambique - Tropical Cyclone Idai - Fact Sheet #1 FY2019

Speeches Shim

March 22, 2019

Initial estimates indicate more than 600,000 people need urgent assistance.

USAID deploys DART to Mozambique to conduct assessments and respond to disaster.

City of Beira approximately 90 percent destroyed, with no road access available.

Continued heavy rains and resultant flooding likely to exacerbate existing needs.

Numbers At A Glance


Official Confirmed Deaths in Mozambique


Estimated Number of People Directly Impacted by the Cyclone


Estimated Number of People Displaced

1 million

Estimated Number of People Without Electricity


Estimated Acres of Crops Damaged or Destroyed


Estimated Houses Damaged or Destroyed

Humanitarian Funding

IN FY 2019

USAID/OFDA $200,000
TOTAL $200,000


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 Government of Mozambique (GoM) reported at least 281 confirmed deaths in the country as of March 22, with the numbers expected to rise significantly in the coming days. An estimated 1.7 million people were in the direct path of the cyclone, and 600,000 people are in need of urgent assistance or at risk due to continued flooding, according to the GoM. While Beira is reportedly 90 percent destroyed, there is a strong likelihood of greater destruction outside of the city.

On March 19, the GoM declared a national emergency due to the effects of the cyclone. On the same day, U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Dennis W. Hearne declared a disaster due to the impact of the cyclone. On March 19, USAID/OFDA staff began arriving in Mozambique to support response effort; the following day, USAID activated a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to lead the USG response, as well as a Washington, D.C.-based Response Management Team (RMT) to support the DART. The DART and RMT are responding to the situation in coordination with other USG counterparts, GoM representatives, and humanitarian partners.

The DART plans to prioritize emergency food, health, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions given the extensive needs identified in these sectors during initial assessments. As of March 22, USAID had provided $200,000 toward the humanitarian response to the cyclone in Mozambique and was communicating with humanitarian partners on the ground to determine additional needs. USAID is also working to dispatch relief commodities from the agency’s warehouses in United Arab Emirates’ city of Dubai and Italy’s city of Pisa to Mozambique for distribution by humanitarian partners.

Local media reported more than 300 deaths in the country as of March 21, while the GoM reported 281 confirmed deaths; fatality figures are expected to rise significantly in the coming days. The GoM National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) reports that an estimated 1.7 million people were in the direct path of the cyclone, and 600,000 people are in need of assistance or at risk due to continued flooding. Initial estimates indicate at least 400,000 people were displaced and hundreds of thousands of people were indirectly affected as of March 20, according to the International Federation Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other relief actors.

Flooding has damaged and destroyed houses and public infrastructure and resulted in crop and livestock losses, according to humanitarian relief agencies. The impact of the cyclone has damaged or destroyed more than 951,000 acres of crops; at least 17,400 houses; approximately 2,800 classrooms; and nearly 40 health units in Inhambane, Manica, Sofala, and Zambézia provinces, according to initial estimates by local authorities. In addition, an estimated 1 million people in affected areas were without electricity due to damage to electrical infrastructure as of March 20, the UN reports.

The cyclone’s impact also exacerbated existing humanitarian needs resulting from related flooding by the same storm system in early March. The UN reports that early March flooding had inundated more than 415,000 acres of crops, affecting more than 85,000 households. The situation is likely to undermine food security and nutrition conditions in the country. As of March 21, approximately 600,000 people were in need of food assistance due to the cyclone, and needs are projected to increase dramatically as the situation evolves, WFP reports.

Beira—the fourth largest city in Mozambique, with a population of more than 530,000 people—has suffered extensive damage following direct impact by the cyclone. Initial estimates by IFRC indicate the city is approximately 90 percent destroyed; however, satellite imagery was not available as of March 20 due to cloud coverage, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports. The Beira Central Hospital emergency wing was non-operational due to significant damage as of March 20; however, other parts of the hospital, including the pediatric wing, have sustained limited damage and are reportedly functioning, OCHA reports. The Munhava District Health Center in Beira has also sustained damage, with the roof reportedly collapsed, according to OCHA.

Relief actors report there is a strong likelihood of similar or greater destruction in rural areas outside of Beira, although humanitarian organizations had conducted limited assessments as of March 20. GoM and humanitarian representatives conducted an aerial survey of Sofala’s Buzi District—home to more than 200,000 people—on March 18, identifying approximately 30 miles of submerged land and thousands of people stranded on rooftops. On March 19, search-and-rescue personnel airlifted approximately 150 people stranded in Buzi to the Beira airport for onward transport to the transit center at the Beira port, where IFRC was registering populations in need. Search and rescue efforts were continuing as of March 22.

Lack of electricity and communications, damage to roads and bridges, and continued flooding in affected areas are severely hampering assessment and response efforts. Main roads into and out of Beira remain cut due to floodwaters and extensive damage to the road network, OCHA reports. Multiple convoys have deployed to Beira with vital relief items; however, teams attempting to reach Beira and surrounding areas by road are facing challenges due to road closures. Limited air assets are also affecting the ability to transport sufficient relief supplies to Beira and other affected areas, OCHA reports. Despite challenges due to road inaccessibility, USAID/OFDA partners report road access into Beira is likely to improve in the coming days as flood waters recede. The water recession is likely to facilitate road access and improved humanitarian access, as well as release air assets for additional relief activities in the coming days.

The Mozambican National Meteorology Institute reported heavy rainfall, strong winds, and severe thunderstorms that continued to hit cyclone-affected areas through March 21, resulting in additional flooding following initial impact of the cyclone. In addition, a dam located outside of Beira collapsed on March 17, causing an inundation of water and extensive damage to the area, OCHA reports. Local authorities remain concerned regarding the capacity and integrity of two dams, including Manica’s Chicamba Dam, which was at 90 percent capacity as of March 19, and Zimbabwe’s Marowanyati Dam. More than 300,000 people are estimated to be in immediate danger if either of the dams burst. On March 18, the GoM also issued alerts regarding flooding that is likely to occur in the Buzi and Pungoe river basins, which could lead to further destruction and potential loss of life, according to OCHA.

As of March 20, airports in Beira and Manica’s Chimoio city and the Beira Sea Port were operational. The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) had commenced deployment of two helicopters and two cargo plans to Beira, anticipated to become operational by March 22, WFP reports. The port in Mozambique’s capital city of Maputo also began providing a vessel to transport food items and relief commodities to Beira on March 21. The port also plans to make available a 1,000 square meters warehouse in Maputo for storage of humanitarian supplies, WFP reports.

INGC is maintaining its operations center at the Beira airport, with interagency coordination currently being facilitated by WFP and COSACA—a consortium of emergency response actors led by non-governmental organization (NGO) Save the Children. Ahead of the cyclone’s landfall, the GoM established six on-site emergency operations and coordination teams pre-positioned in six strategic locations—Vilankulos, Caia, Beira, Chimoio, Tete, and Quelimane. INGC plans to establish a second coordination hub in Chimoio in the coming days, according to OCHA. INGC and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are also leading coordination activities in Zambézia’s Quelimane city, OCHA reports. The UN has activated the cluster system, and USG representatives are participating in UN-led cluster meetings to enhance coordination and information sharing.

Search-and-rescue efforts are ongoing, with the Indian Navy and the South African Air Force currently supporting GoZ-led efforts. Barges and light boats provided by South African and Indian rescue teams are currently operating to move people to safer places. In addition, Rescue South Africa, a South Africa-based response team with prior training through USAID/OFDA disaster risk reduction programs, was one of the first search-and-rescue teams to commence activities in Mozambique.

WFP had transported more than 25 metric tons of High Energy Biscuits (HEBs)—sufficient for more than 25,000 people—to Beira; commenced airdrops of HEBs to Buzi and other isolated areas with stranded populations; and began delivering food to displaced families sheltering in public buildings in Dondo as of March 19. The UN agency had also provided 6,000 people in Tete with cash transfers to support food needs and dispatched 75 MT of food assistance to support 9,500 people displaced in Zambézia.

In the coming days, WFP plans to provide 22,000 people in hard-to-reach areas with three-day rations of HEBs. The agency also plans to distribute 50 MT of emergency food assistance, sufficient to support 6,600 people, in Sofala’s Caia town. In addition, WFP plans to distribute 800 MT of relief commodities currently pre-positioned in the country’s Nacala town. The UN agency also maintains contingency stocks of shelter, health, and WASH supplies in Maputo for distribution to NGOs engaged in the response. Furthermore, WFP is currently developing plans to support approximately 600,000 people in Mozambique with food assistance for three months; the plan requires approximately $42 million.

On March 20, relief agencies conducted a rapid needs assessment in Sofala’s Dondo District, one of the largest areas of displacement and need outside of Beira, according to OCHA. The assessment team noted that displaced persons are sheltering in nearly 30 reception centers established in schools and other public buildings by local authorities. Priority needs of the displaced persons include health due to the the risk of waterborne illnesses, as well as shelter support, as displaced persons have requested shelter materials to return to their homes as soon as possible. The assessment team also highlighted urgent protection concerns given the crowded sleeping arrangements at the centers. In response, relief agencies are working to provide assistance to populations at the centers.

On March 19, Ambassador Hearne declared a disaster due to the impact of the cyclone in Mozambique. In response, USAID/OFDA provided an initial $200,000 to World Vision to procure emergency relief commodities for shelter and WASH interventions. The USG disaster declaration is the second to occur for the country in March; on March 15, Ambassador Hearne had also declared a disaster due to early March flooding in the country, which was caused by torrential rains due to the same storm system that had begun as a tropical depression in Mozambique. In response to the March 15 declaration, USAID/OFDA provided $200,000 to CARE for early March flooding to procure emergency relief commodities for shelter and WASH interventions.

On March 19, USAID/OFDA staff began arriving in Mozambique to support response efforts. On March 20, USAID/OFDA activated a DART to lead the USG response, as well as a Washington, D.C.-based RMT to support the DART. The DART and RMT are responding to the situation in coordination with other USG counterparts, GoM representatives, and humanitarian partners.

DART, USAID Mission in Mozambique, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) staff traveled to Beira on March 20 to assess the impact of the cyclone. The DART identified shelter and WASH commodities as the largest priority in the response, followed by food assistance, although WFP and other food security actors had commenced distributions. The DART plans to prioritize emergency food, WASH, shelter, and health interventions given the extensive needs identified in these sectors during initial assessments. USAID is arranging for the dispatch of relief commodities from warehouses in Dubai and Pisa to Mozambique for distribution by humanitarian partners. In addition, the DART is coordinating with humanitarian partners with established presence and operational capacity to discuss funding opportunities to provide additional support to the response.

The most effective way people can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations. A list of humanitarian organizations that are accepting cash donations for disaster responses around the world can be found at

USAID encourages cash donations because they allow aid professionals to procure the exact items needed (often in the affected region); reduce the burden on scarce resources (such as transportation routes, staff time, and warehouse space); can be transferred very quickly and without transportation costs; support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; and ensure culturally, dietarily, and environmentally appropriate assistance.

More information can be found at:

  • USAID Center for International Disaster Information: or +1.202.661.7710.
  • Information on relief activities of the humanitarian community can be found at

Last updated: March 26, 2019

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