South Africa, Mozambique obtain International Charter activation for disaster management

On April 25, 2019, the International Charter “Space and Major Disaster” approved activations for South and Mozambique following incidences of flooding in South Africa and the ranging Cyclone Kenneth in northern Mozambique.

The Charter is a global collaboration through which satellite data and expertise are coordinated for rapid response to major disaster situations. Currently led by the French Space Agency (CNES), the Charter combines Earth observation assets from 17 member space agencies, space system operators and other partners for disaster management.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), requested for the Charter activation on behalf of the National Disaster Management Centre (NDC) of South Africa for the recent devastating floods in the country’s KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Eastern Cape provinces. The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) is acting as project manager for the activation.

According to media reports, more than 1,000 people have fled their homes due to the devastating floods and mudslides, with about 70 people reported dead. Heavy rains and strong winds have lashed the southeastern part of the country for days — wrecking roads, buildings, blocking and toppling electric wires; two universities, schools and wider business districts are reportedly closed.

The flooding precedes an eminent Cyclone Kenneth currently ravaging northern Mozambique. The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) is resolute to mitigate the impending disaster of the Cyclone Kenneth if it hits South Africa, according to a Tweet by the Agency’s CEO.

Cyclone Kenneth lashes northern Mozambique with wind speeds of over 200 kilometres per hour, cutting off communities and wiping out entire villages. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says five deaths were reported in Mozambique and another four in the island nation of Comoros, according to the CNN.

The International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” has been activated for the Cyclone Kenneth in Mozambique. Brazilian Disaster and Risk Management National Centre (CENAD) requested for the activation on behalf of the National Disasters Management Institute of Mozambique. The Brazilian Ministry of National Integration is acting as the project manager.

According to weather forecasters, Mozambique will continue to experience severe rainfall and waves five metres higher than usual. Officials say about more than 680,000 people are at risk of displacement.

Both South Africa and Mozambique will leverage the Charter to receive satellite data and resources to mitigate the disaster situations.