Cyclones Idai and Kenneth are prime manifestations of global climate change. Africa is already bearing the brunt of this phenomenon and worse is to come unless mitigation measures can be rapidly put in place. African nations are already doing their bit with their limited resources, but a more coordinated international effort is required, argues Wanjohi Kabukuru.
Tropical Cyclone Idai, which rammed a destructive path from Beira in Mozambique to hamlets in Malawi and Zimbabwe, with cumulative losses now pegged at slightly over $2bn and affecting over 3m people, is forcing Africa to rethink how it will cushion its development priorities from the vagaries of the weather and associated climate change effects.
"Yet another alarm bell about the dangers of climate change," is how the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described Cyclone Idai, which took 1,000 lives across the three countries and back-pedalled progress by destroying infrastructure, farmlands and properties.
Five weeks after Cyclone Idai, it was Cyclone Kenneth's turn to swipe through the small island nation of Comoros and make landfall in northern Mozambique's Cabo Delgado Province. Cyclone Kenneth claimed 50 lives in the two countries and destroyed over 45,000 houses, directly affecting 250,000 people.
According to Professor Salomao Bandeira of Mozambique's Eduardo Mondlane University, there are seven tropical cyclone basins globally. These include the south-eastern Indian Ocean, northern Indian Ocean, south-western Indian Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, eastern and western parts of the North Pacific and the western South Pacific.
Data released by the World Meteorological Organisation indicates that the south-eastern part of the Indian Ocean is the most active cyclone region in the southern hemisphere. And this explains why in the last 70 years, both Mozambique and Madagascar have been battered by more than 25 cyclones.
This vulnerability appears to have led to a radical shift in strategy, thrusting climate concerns right into the centre of Africa's development planning.
Lasting impression on planners
As the effects of Cyclone Idai subsided, its dreadful impact has left a lasting impression on the continent's development planners.
The number of casualties, the destruction of essential infrastructure, the forced migration, the havoc inflicted on farmlands through floods and upsurge of water-borne diseases as aftermaths of the cyclone, featured prominently during the fifth African...