Responding to Idai

The Logistics Cluster in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe
09 April 2019
WFP aircraft carry life-saving items on behalf of partners - Credits/WFP

It began in early March. A severe weather system formed off the eastern coast of Malawi and Mozambique, bringing heavy rains and strong winds, before tracking back to the Mozambique channel. Here, it intensified into Category 3 Cyclone Idai, making landfall in Beira, Mozambique on 14 March

Three weeks on, and the extent of the damage is becoming clearer.

Almost 3 million people are reported to be affected across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. From flooded communities, to impassable roads, imagery from across the three countries reveals the huge access and logistics challenges facing responders on the ground. Logistics information and coordination isn’t just critical, it can be lifesaving.

The Logistics Cluster has teams on the ground in each country, working with partners for the most efficient response.

26 days after Cyclone Idai first made landfall, here’s an update of the response.


In Malawi, communities in the country’s south have seen the greatest impact from flooding both before and after Cyclone Idai hit. 868,900 people are reported to have been impacted across 15 districts, with some communities in the country’s southern areas remaining only accessible by air or boat. The Logistics Sector has established a coordination hub in Blantyre, supporting the Ministry of Transport and Public Works and Department of Disaster Management Affairs with coordination, information management and access to storage, road and river transport, and passenger boat services.

As the response ramps up, and an influx of relief items from across the humanitarian sector arrives in-country, collaboration across the humanitarian community is critical to ensure aid reaches those in need. And the sector team are working round-the-clock to achieve exactly this.

From regular coordination meetings, to liaising with partners in the field scattered among the impacted districts, the sector is working with members from across the humanitarian community to ensure the most effective response. Stay up-to-date:


As Cyclone Idai made landfall in Beira, Mozambique’s fourth largest city, it brought wind speeds of up to 224 km per hour and heavy rains. The damage caused to roads and bridges interrupted regular supply routes. Thousands of people were marooned on rooftops and more than 50 km of land in Buzi town, west of Beira, had been submerged. Some cities became accessible only via sea and air.

Despite the quick improvement of physical access constraints, the situation on the ground remains challenging and the delivery of relief items is a day-to-day challenge. While flood waters are currently decreasing, it will still take time for rivers to recede below the medium alert level in most areas. The National Disaster Management Agency (INGC) is leading the response, and the Government has declared a state of emergency and requested international assistance.

The Logistics Cluster was activated on 20 March but prepared to deploy staff 48 hours before the cyclone’s landfall. As humanitarian organisations scale-up activities, access by air and logistics coordination are critical to ensure life-saving assistance reaches affected communities in a context of flooded roads and damaged infrastructure. The Logistics Cluster is providing coordination, information management support and facilitating access to common logistics services to assist humanitarian operations.

The risk of water-borne and vector-borne diseases remains a major concern, with reports of rising cases of malaria, cholera and acute watery diarrhea. Beira and Dondo are both cholera-endemic areas and the risk of spread is therefore high. The Logistics Cluster is closely monitoring the situation and is preparing for a potential risk of cholera outbreak.

To stay updated, see:




Following its path of destruction across Mozambique and Malawi, the storm crossed into Zimbabwe, causing severe flooding, landslides and destroying buildings, roads and bridges in the country’s east. 270,000 people have been affected across Manicaland Province, with the districts of Chimanimani and Chipinge hardest hit, with some areas still completely cut off. The Logistics Cluster was officially activated in Zimbabwe on 4 April, and a Logistics Cluster Coordinator and Information Management Officer have been deployed to Mutare where a coordination hub has been established for the response. Working closely with the Government of Zimbabwe’s Department of Civil Protection and Manicaland’s Provincial Administrator, the Logistics Cluster is supporting humanitarian responders with coordination, information management and access to air cargo transport in the form of an Mi8 helicopter, and common storage.

With road access changing daily as the government works quickly to repair infrastructure and new helicopter landing zones identified in affected regions, the provision of accurate and timely logistics information is critical to allow responding organisations to plan their operations to ensure lifesaving relief items get to those in need. For the latest information, see here:

As the response shifts from emergency to early recovery, the Logistics Cluster will continue to work with government, UN agencies, and NGOs to support them in reaching those who have been impacted by this devastating crisis. 


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