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Images of the devastating flooding in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai. File photo: Twitter / WFP
Messages alerting the population to the approach of Cyclone Idai in the centre of Mozambique in March were too general and lacked concrete recommendations, the chairman of the country’s Order of Engineers, Álvaro do Carmo Vaz, said yesterday.
“Warnings to the population cannot be generic, such as ‘caution is advised’ or ‘seek refuge in high places.’ Where are those places? How do you get there? They have to be specific to each location and to the various agents,” said Álvaro Carmo Vaz, a civil engineer and professor at Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) in Maputo.
Carmo Vaz was speaking yesterday in a lecture at the National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation in Maputo promoted by the Order of Engineers of Mozambique and titled ‘Lessons to be learned from the cyclone and floods’.
Cyclone Idai, which also affected Malawi and Zimbabwe, caused 603 deaths in Mozambique and affected more than 1.5 million people.
Vaz said that, although warning messages were sent days in advance and repeated several times, they did not inculcate in the population the necessary sense of urgency because of their monotonous repetition.
Vaz also recommended that precipitation monitoring networks be improved to speed the launching of alerts.
Mozambique must “learn to live” with the floods, which will always return. The country must “be prepared in terms of resilient infrastructure” he added, counselling the revision of school and hospital building regulations for resilience.
Álvaro Carmo Vaz is a specialist in hydrology and the author of many scientific and technical texts on the subject.