Credit: GIN photo

World Bank has approved emergency support for the three African countries slammed by record-strength cyclones in what has been called the worst weather catastrophe in decades. 

Tropical Cyclone Idai ripped through Mozambique with 110 mph winds and a storm surge topping 20 feet before moving inland into Zimbabwe and Malawi. Heavy rains accompanied the storm March 15 affecting 1.7 million people in Mozambique and 970,000 in neighboring Malawi. 

Idai was followed by Tropical Cyclone Kenneth, the strongest tropical cyclone in Mozambique since modern records began. 

The three countries—Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi—will share $700 million to rebuild damage to infrastructure, buildings and agriculture. The new World Bank president David Malpass, a former staffer at the U.S. Treasury Dept., advanced by President Trump, assessed the damage. 

Mozambique, hardest hit by the cyclone, will receive $350 million from the Bank’s Crisis Response Window to re-establish the water supply, rebuild damaged public infrastructure and support disease prevention, among other things, the World Bank said. 

Malawi will get $120 million in financing, with up to $75 million to select U.N. agencies to support Zimbabwe. 

The finance package does not capture indirect losses such as reduced productivity or business interruptions, and only provides a limited degree of accuracy. Last month, for example, the World Bank estimated over $2 billion needed for recovery costs. 

Since becoming head of the bank, Malpass has visited Madagascar, Ethiopia and Mozambique but declined to attend a major summit in China on their “Belt and Road” development policy. Over 40 world leaders, the head of the International Monetary Fund and scores of finance officials attended the summit held in Beijing. 

Malpass is a longtime critic of China’s lending practices and worked to raise alarms about them with European countries. 

He replaces Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American physician who served as the Bank’s 12th president from 2012 to 2019. A global health leader, he was a co-founder and executive director of Partners in Health before serving as the president of Dartmouth College from 2009 to 2012. 

“The work of the World Bank Group is more important now than ever as the aspirations of the poor rise all over the world, and problems like climate change, pandemics, famine and refugees continue to grow in both their scale and complexity,” Mr. Kim said in a statement.