With a tropical cyclone expected to make landfall in Tanzania this week, weather experts have warned of misery and possible extensive damage. The Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) has forecast heavy rains, coupled with strong winds and huge waves in some coastal areas from today.

Residents and the authorities in areas expected to bear the brunt of the weather phenomenon must not take these alerts lightly, and we expect them to prepare accordingly.

Heavy rains have in the past displaced thousands of people in coastal areas. Inadequate preparedness is likely to make the impact this time around much worse. Local government authorities should be at the forefront of emergency preparedness efforts. Response teams need to be on high alert, ready to offer help to those who will need it.

Weather experts say the rains will disrupt fishing and transport activities in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, Coast, Tanga, Lindi and Mtwara regions. This means that economic activities in these areas will take a major hit during the five-day period.

In addition to the urgent need for preparedness, the relevant authorities should prepare emergency shelters and relief such as blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, medicines and food to mitigate the impact of the imminent adverse weather on local communities.

It should be recalled that hundreds of people were killed and thousands displaced when Cyclone Idai tore through parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe earlier this year. The disaster offered crucial lessons to Tanzania and other African countries as far as response to such natural disasters is concerned.

While it is impossible to prevent cyclones and other destructive natural phenomena, their impact can be lessened considerably through adequate preparedness among local communities and the relevant authorities.