Why were the people worst affected by Cyclone Idai so badly prepared?
By Antonio Matimbe
Why is it that people who are directly impacted by storms were so badly prepared to respond to this disaster? Why, even when there were warnings, did hundreds die?
These questions trouble me, but they are easy to explain. The very poorest live from day to day. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet, to put food on the table, to find the money to send children to school and to pay for the healthcare of sick relatives.
Living in survival mode creates a sense of fatalism in which tomorrow has to look after itself. This lack of hope that things can be better is the result of being at the mercy of things that are beyond their control and the means to overcome.
The other reason why the poorest suffer so badly in such circumstances is because even with government warnings being shared over the radio, what could they do?
The homes of people living in poverty in Beira are made of materials that are easy to destroy. Even the hospitals, health centres, churches and schools were ripped apart. The city wasn’t able to withstand the fury of the winds.
And in the countryside, any helicopter flight over the devastated area shows the clear vulnerability of people living in the low lands. There are no roads, communities are isolated. It would have been almost impossible to evacuate people before the storm, even if people had wanted to go.