Natural disasters and development opportunities

Cyclone Idai, challenges, integration and development alternatives in Zimbabwe and sub-Saharan Africa in the New Millennium

  • Godfrey Chikowore
  • J D Nhavira
  • C Munhande
  • T Mashingaidze
  • M Sibanda
Keywords: cyclone, anticyclone, restoration, transformation, industrialization and catastrophe free strategies, ; catastrophe free alternatives, mitigation


Stating the geophysical atmospheric conditions relating to Cyclone Idai and the impact it had on human and wild life, infrastructure and the economy, this study gives a definition and the challenges engendered by that disaster while proffering development alternatives for Zimbabwe and Sub Saharan Africa in general. Best articulated from a climate change dialogue perspective, cyclones and anticyclones constitute vibrant atmospheric processes or wind systems characterized by extreme weather conditions and patterns that have contrasting attributes. A cyclone can be described as a low-pressure system, whereas an anticyclone is a high-pressure system. Effectively, a cyclone, commonly known as a low, constitutes an area of low pressure where air masses meet and rise. The low, which typifies a cyclone, indicates bad weather, like heavy rain, hail and thunderstorms. As such winds in a cyclone blow counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. With respect to an anticyclone which is commonly referred to as a high, it constitutes an area of high pressure where air drifts apart and sinks, effectively indicating fair or fine weather. Because of the effective impact of the force related to the rotation of the earth, winds in an anticyclone blow clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Depending on the magnitude of the low (low pressure area) and the high (high pressure area) both wind systems could be catastrophic for human life, assets, domesticated animals, wild life and the economy in general. Such was the impact of Cyclone Idai. The study is developed around several key questions relating to the origin of cyclones, zonation, disaster management phases, transformation opportunities, impact on rural and urban communities and post cyclone industrialization and infrastructure development. Grounded in the theory of disaster management and transformation, the work employs descriptive and quantitative data analysis as well as qualitative data analysis and modelling. Contributions by Claire Gillespie (2018); Zimmermann and Stössel (2011); Van der Waldt (2013); Tau, Niekerk and Becker (2016); Contreras (2016) are central to this study. Considering the preparedness phase as critical in responding to cyclones, this contribution proffers alternatives that are more preventive, catastrophe evading strategies which could have been adopted by stakeholders as a measure to guarantee zero life loss and minimum property loss in the event of a warning issued of an impending cyclone. It proposes “emergency human-centered strategies” in the recovery phase, whereby development and transformation of cyclone affected rural–urban zones should be adopted in step with the global community practice.

How to Cite
Chikowore, G., Nhavira, J., Munhande, C., Mashingaidze, T., & Sibanda, M. (2019). Natural disasters and development opportunities. The Fountain: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 3(1), 1-14. Retrieved from