Cyclone Idai: 'Our ruling elites have not taken climate change seriously'

Wits University international relations associate professor, Vishwas Satgar says Cyclone Idai needs to be characterised as a "climate shock-inducing serious climate injustice".

Read: Cyclone Idai: clean-up operations have started in Beira

Cyclone Idai left hundreds and thousands of people in dire need of assistance in Mozambique after the cyclone swept through the country in March.

What we've got to keep in mind is that scientists have already told us of very credible UN findings that as the world heats, due to historical emissions and ongoing emissions mainly by industrialised countries, we are going to have these shocks.

Vishwas Satgar, International relations associate professor - Wits University

The second point to keep in mind is that none of the governments in these regions and even in the continent are on a climate emergency footing. In other words, our ruling elites have not taken this very seriously.

Vishwas Satgar, International relations associate professor - Wits University

He adds much could have been done to mitigate the Cyclone Idai impact.

For example in southern Malawi, you are on a flood plain and academic research is telling us that a lot could have been done. There was a flood there in 2015 and a drought impact in 2016 and lessons have not been learned from that.

Vishwas Satgar, International relations associate professor - Wits University

If you look at what has happened in Mozambique, massive loss of infrastructure but actually by March 7 and March 8, one of the main feeder rivers into the Zambezi had blocked up and there was a reverse flow effect. So flooding began even before Idai had hit landfall.

Vishwas Satgar, International relations associate professor - Wits University

He adds that this is a crisis of leadership at a level of the multilateral system, Africa's own inter-governmental system and at a level of public discourse.

If you look at the impact, The UN is talking about $1 billion price tag to infrastructure loss just in Mozambique alone and these price tags are going to go up and the complexity is going to get even worse.

Vishwas Satgar, International relations associate professor - Wits University

Satgar says there needs to talk about reparations and climate injustice as there is a failed climate response in African countries.

I am not clear as to where the lessons will be learned as there are going to be more droughts, more cyclones. This is the new normal and it should be part of the national conversation.

Vishwas Satgar, International relations associate professor - Wits University

Listen below to the full interview:


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