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After Cyclone Idai, Survivors Struggle In Poor Conditions

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Where can we begin in trying to describe the damage in southern Africa? We're still learning the aftermath of a cyclone that was so massive it affected several countries in recent days. Paolo Cernuschi is the Zimbabwe country director for the International Rescue Committee.

PAOLO CERNUSCHI: The stories that my team reported back were heart-wrenching. There are still communities that were - we're still trying to make heads or tails of what had happened. We're trying to recover the bodies of loved ones from under boulders or, you know, from mudslides.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Flooding from the storm is so severe it created an inland ocean in central Mozambique. One bitter irony is that in flood zones, there is a desperate need for water - drinking water.

INSKEEP: Aid agencies are arranging to move in water tablets among many other supplies. But for entire regions, we're told the roads have been impassable for days. You have to airlift supplies in if you do anything at all. The effort has strained governments and nongovernmental organizations that normally help locals prepare for drought.

CERNUSCHI: A lot of organizations, like ours, are really starting to think about, how do we realign our program in a resilience lens? - because this is something that will be increasingly frequent. Natural hazards will continue to increase. And we need to work on communities to make them more resilient when that happens.

MARTIN: Cernuschi worries that this kind of cyclone may come again.

CERNUSCHI: The trends are certainly for more frequent, more violent natural disasters. And I think it's fair to link that to climate change. And so we have to get used to this as the new norm.

MARTIN: He expects aid organizations will still be focusing on immediate needs for the next three to four months and rebuilding will take years.

(SOUNDBITE OF NILS FRAHM'S "FUNDAMENTAL VALUES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: March 20, 2019 at 11:00 PM CDT
A previous headline misspelled Cyclone Idai as Adai.