The Case of Tropical Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe

Eastern Zimbabwe is a mountainous area, which mostly lies in Agro-ecological Regions I and II. These regions receive the highest rainfall amounts and have the best natural suitability for the production of specialised crops and trees. The regions provide the most diverse ecosystem services in the country since they are at the top of a five-tier agro-ecological characterisation. However, population growth, rapid land-use and climate change are increasingly degrading the regions’ ecosystem. These complex factors are putting pressure on this highly productive mountain region, with significant impacts on the wider ecosystem services thereby constraining the wellbeing and livelihoods of the local community.

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On March 15th 2019, Chimanimani and eight other districts were plunged into disarray by Cyclone Idai, leaving a trail of destruction and human casualties of unprecedented magnitude. Cyclone Idai’s impact became the most devastating natural disaster Zimbabwe has ever faced. It resultantly required the highest humanitarian response ever mobilised in the country’s modern history. The epicentre was predictably in the mountainous highly fragile parts of Chimanimani District. This exposed an extremely vulnerable region to the might of the Cyclone, resulting in a natural disaster that highlighted the urgency of resilience building.

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