On Sunday, 12th March 2023, Tropical Cyclone Freddy entered Malawi near the city of Nsanje, and subsequently devastated much of southern region. Of the countries in the path of Freddy, Malawi was the hardest-hit.
President Lazarus Chakwera has announced that nearly half of the country is damaged by the impacts of the exceptionally long-lived, powerful, and deadly storm. He also declared a state of disaster in the southern regions.
It is estimated that over a month’s worth of rainfall poured down in just one day. The unrelenting downpour resulted in catastrophic flash floods that wash away homes and people. Over 430 km2 (170 sq mi) of general land was submerged, with 50,000 houses being damaged or destroyed, and over 650,000 people displaced and forced to evacuate their homes. The UN is reporting that at least 676 people have died and over 500 are still reported missing.
The storm arrived as farmers were about to begin their harvesting, meaning that many smallholder farmers have lost their crops, fields and livestock to the storm. This will worsen local food security in the country.
In addition, Cyclone Freddy struck as Malawi had been experiencing its worst cholera outbreak in recorded history, Severe flooding will worsen the epidemic and contribute to a significant health crisis. The UN have indicated that almost 5 million people affected by cholera and around 1.5 million are affected by the floods, highlighting the increased risk of gender-based violence in times of crisis, as displaced families and children collect in shelters.
The storm also ruined infrastructure. Damage to the national power grid and hydroelectric dam mean that many people are without power. Unable to charge phones or communication devices, information coming out from Malawi is limited.
While we are working to establish the exact impact that Cyclone Freddy has had on the Our Lives Our land programme in Malawi, it is clear that the consequences are significant. Now, more than ever, it is abundantly clear that these communities need our support in establishing more diverse and resilient livelihoods to overcome and endure the effects of climate change and global economic shocks. You can make a donation toward Our Lives Our Land in Malawi at the link below.