African Development Bank calls for urgent global response as second cyclone hits Southern Africa

The African Development Bank has called for urgent global action in the wake of a second cyclone to hit the southern Africa coastal region in six weeks.  According to Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina, “we must have concerted international cooperation to establish management systems and responses to combat natural disaster.”

Cyclone Kenneth is also the most extreme tropical tornado to hit Mozambique in the last 60 years, according to official records.

“Timely intervention of national, regional and international actors and stakeholders are crucial when disaster strikes. Increasingly, Africa’s ecological challenges will only be successfully tackled through the harmony of efforts and activities of continental and global institutions,” Adesina urged on Monday from the Bank’s Abidjan headquarters. 

Cyclone Kenneth ripped through Comoros and Mozambique last week and is likely to cause extreme flooding in areas where more than 70,000 people live, according to the country’s National Directorate for the Management of Water Resources.

On March 15, cyclone Idai began pounding Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe and impacted the livelihoods of more than 3 million people. The official death toll now stands at 1,007, with 602 killed in Mozambique, 344 in Zimbabwe, 60 in Malawi and one in Madagascar, according to relief agencies.

Infrastructural damage from Idai across Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe is estimated to be at least $1 billion.

“We are on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. We need to brace up for post-cyclone flooding, landslides and disease outbreaks,” Adesina warned.

A high-level Bank delegation, led by Mateus Magala, Vice President for Corporate Services and Human Resources, has begun visiting the affected areas.

Speaking from Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, Magala said, “What we saw on the ground in Mozambique after Idai, and in camps housing internally displaced persons in the south of Malawi, shows that we need to focus on restoring the dignity of citizens and the economic stability of communities when disaster strikes.”

Other members of the Bank delegation include Patrick Zimpita, Executive Director for Malawi, Zambia, and Mauritius; Heinrich Gaomab II, Executive Director for Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe; and Kapil Kapoor, Director General, Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office.

The Bank delegation is expected in Harare this week to meet with donor agencies and officials of the Government of Zimbabwe. They will also tour Chimanimani, Chipinge and Mutare districts in Manicaland Province which were most affected by cyclone Idai.

Global inequality is 25% higher than it would have been in a climate-stable world

Those least responsible for global warming will suffer the most. Poorer countries – those that have contributed far less to climate change – tend to be situated in warmer regions, where additional warming causes the most devastation. Extreme weather events such as Syria’s prolonged drought, South Asia’s catastrophic monsoon floods, and Cyclone Idai in South-East Africa, the third deadliest cyclone on record, are becoming more likely and more severe.

Those least responsible for global warming will suffer the most. Poorer countries – those that have contributed far less to climate change – tend to be situated in warmer regions, where additional warming causes the most devastation. Extreme weather events such as Syria’s prolonged drought, South Asia’s catastrophic monsoon floods, and Cyclone Idai in South-East Africa, the third deadliest cyclone on record, are becoming more likely and more severe.


Nicholas Beuret t
Lecturer, University of Essex

Disclosure statement
Nicholas Beuret does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


University of Essex provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

These events are disproportionately bringing death, displacement, and crop failure. As a result of this, projections estimate that the economies of poorer, warmer countries will be gravely harmed by climate change over coming decades, while the cooler, richer countries responsible for the vast majority of the extra CO2 in the air may even benefit in the short term. But as new research reveals, this is not just a future concern – the economic injustice of climate change has already been operating for 60 years.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, compared different countries’ GDP per capita – a measure of the average person’s economic standard of living – between 1961 and 2010. It then used climate models to estimate what each country’s GDP would have been without the effects of climate change. The findings are stark.

Many poorer countries’ economies have rapidly grown in the last 50 years, albeit often at great social and environmental cost and to the benefit of the globalised economy. But even that growth has been held back substantially by climate change – the gap in GDP per capita between richer and poorer countries is 25% higher than it would have been in a climate-stable world. And with most richer countries sitting below and poorer countries above the 13℃ average annual temperature at which economic productivity peaks, global temperature rise is an immediate driver of this inequality.

A Mozambican standing in front of her home, destroyed by Cyclone Idai. More than 1,000 people died in the storm.Christian Jepsen/flickrCC BY-NC-ND

Of the 36 countries with the lowest historical carbon emissions, which are also some of the poorest and hottest countries in the world, 34 have suffered an economic hit compared to a world without warming, losing on average 24% of GDP per capita. The poorest 40% of countries, much of which are located in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, have lost between 17 and 31% of GDP in the last half century.

India, one of the lowest emitters per capita, has been regarded as an economic growth champion in recent decades – but climate change has slowed its progress by 30%. While the country’s services sector has boomed, the agricultural sector – which employs half of India’s total workforce – has suffered greatly. A three-fold rise in extreme rainfall events and increased severe droughts have reduced crop yields and cause between $9 and 10 billion in damage per year to the agricultural industry alone.

The same events also regularly bring India’s urban economic hubs to a standstill. With 12m inhabitants, Mumbai has the world’s largest population exposed to coastal flooding. Deluges in 2005 and 2014 forced the city’s international airport and roads to close, and cost millions in property damage.

Increasingly intense Indian summers that now regularly hit above 45℃reduce productivity, kill thousands, and cause thousands more to commit suicide. Add to this the multi-billion pound costs of rescue and rebuilding from cyclones such as 1999’s Odisha storm, which left two million homeless, and it’s easy to see how climate change can stunt the economic growth of India and similarly affected countries.

Global warming has increased global economic inequality. Noah Diffenbaugh & Marshall Burke/Author provided

For the world’s wealthiest countries however, climate change has added to the coffers – 14 of the 19 highest-emitting countries now find themselves in a better economic position than they would have been if the planet’s temperature had stayed constant, with an average boost of 13%. The US economy has suffered, but by a miniscule 0.2%, while the UK finds itself 10% better off. The 2018 heatwave there posed its own risks to health and crops, but it also provided huge boosts to ice cream sales and tourism.

Cancel debts

As is becoming increasingly clear, there are no quick fixes or easy solutions to climate change or inequality. Reducing emissions is, sadly, not enough, and providing yet more high-interest loans to “help” poorer nations adapt to a warmer world will only deepen global inequality. Alongside radically changing the economies of the world’s wealthiest nations, we must demand that reparations for past injustices be paid, that the debts of the Global South be cancelled, that privatisation of local industries and lands be reversed, and that the brutal border regimessurrounding the world’s wealthy nations be torn down. Only then can global inequality truly be tackled.

Credit: The Conversation

AfDB boosts cyclone response with emergency relief package and measures to combat climate change

Malawi’s recovery and reconstruction plans in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai has received a boost from the African Development Bank (, which is supporting the country with an emergency relief package and measures to combat the effect of climate change in the Southern African region.

Cyclone Idai in Southern Africa. An aerial view of Mozambique’s Sofala province shows standing water. Photo credit World Vision

Mateus Magala, the Bank’s Vice President for Corporate Services and Human Resources, led a delegation to Lilongwe this week, to discuss the institution’s intervention plans with public and civil society officials in Malawi.

Magala had meetings with government officials in Lilongwe, including Hon. Goodall E. Gondwe, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development; Hon. Nicholas Dausi, Minister of Homeland Security; and Dr. Dalitso Kabambe, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi.

Magala conveyed Bank President Akinwumi Adesina’s sympathies to Malawian President Peter Mutharika and the people of Malawi.

“We have come to express our support to Malawi and to partner with the Government of Malawi in its ongoing efforts to provide immediate relief and reconstruction in affected sections of the country,” he said.

Magala informed officials that the development finance institution had set up an Emergency Recovery Fund, which will disburse US$100 million to jumpstart reconstruction efforts in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The Bank is also planning to redirect funding, totaling $1.4 million, to the immediate relief effort, reallocated from savings and extensions of ongoing Bank projects in Malawi’s water, roads and agriculture sectors.  

Responding to Magala, a visibly elated Gondwe said, “The African Development Bank couldn’t have come at a better time, to join us in our efforts which are now focused mainly on providing humanitarian relief and reconstruction…We were looking forward to bumper harvests in Malawi this year, but we have lost our entire crop to the cyclone.”

The Bank has already availed $250,0000 to Malawi, from its Emergency Relief Fund, for the purchase of emergency food items to avert hunger following the loss of crops damaged by the severe floods. Gondwe acknowledged receipt of this fund during his meeting with the Bank delegation.

The Bank’s Climate Fund will also release $150,000.00 to Malawi to enable authorities to assist communities and internally displaced persons impacted by the cyclone. The Bank’s long-term plans include designing and developing mechanisms for climate insurance and mitigating climate change.

Close to sixty people have died, and about 1 million persons across 15 districts have been displaced by the severe floods, mostly in the south of the country, where entire villages were submerged in water. Private sector activities and operators in the land-locked nation of about 18 million people were also severely impaired by the cyclone.

“Now is the time to talk about long-term and permanent solutions to the problems of floods in Malawi. We need to build houses and new structures but, above all, we ought to take advantage of this calamity to accelerate our irrigation development systems,” Gondwe remarked.

The Bank delegation also discussed the need for long-term cooperation on economic development and resilience strategies with donors and development partners in Malawi, including the World Bank, World Food Program Malawi, and top diplomats representing the American, Chinese, Egyptian, German, Japanese, Nigerian, Norwegian and Zimbabwean governments in Malawi.

Cyclone Idai hit Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in mid-March 2019. Hardest hit was Mozambique, where the cyclone killed about 600 people. More than 1,600 people were injured, according to the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. Malawi’s Homeland Security Minister Dausi estimates that about $365 million will be needed immediately for the reconstruction of bridges, schools, hospitals and homes.

The Bank’s delegation also included Patrick Zimpita, Executive Director for Malawi, Zambia and Mauritius; Heinrich Gaomab II, Executive Director for Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe; Kapil Kapoor, Director General, Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office; and Eyerusalem Fasika, Officer-In-Charge of the Bank’s Malawi Country Office.