One year after Cyclone Freddy, tropical storm Filipo expected to compound humanitarian crisis in Malawi and Mozambique, warns Oxfam

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Millions of people have nothing left to eat but wild roots after losing their crops due to repeated extreme weather

One year since Cyclone Freddy ravaged parts of Malawi and Mozambique, tropical storm Filipo is expected to hit the region today compounding the humanitarian crisis facing millions of people due to repeated climate shocks, warns Oxfam.

Climate change has made dry spells and flash floods more intense and prolonged, decimating crops and stripping people of their ability to cope. Over six million people in Malawi and Mozambique are already facing acute hunger with many surviving on wild roots.

Machinda Marongwe, Oxfam in Southern Africa Programme Director, said: “The consecutive disasters – first Cyclone Freddy then the harsh drought and localised flash flooding – have made it almost impossible for affected communities to recover and rebuild their lives.”

Eliza Anthony from Malawi’s Chikwawa district whose family home was washed away by floods caused by Cyclone Freddy said: “Last week, we went a day without eating anything and the following day we survived on porridge only. This year has been harsh as well since all the crops that we planted have dried up”.

Jose Mucote, Executive Director of Associacao Ajoago, Oxfam’s partner in Mozambique said: “The same areas hit by Cyclone Freddy are currently experiencing the effects of El Nino [prolonged dry spells]. Because of the damage caused by Cyclone Freddy floods, many have nothing to eat now. Some have sold all their livestock to buy food, plunging themselves further into a poverty abyss”.

In Malawi, Oxfam’s partner Mandida Zunga, the Secretary of the Catholic Development Commission, says: “Many affected communities have failed to rebuild their homes, and have no place to grow food. The dry spells have wilted their entire crops.

“The flooding brought rocks, stones and sand that has made it difficult for people to grow food again. The maize, beans and potatoes that people tried to plant are all drying because the sand is too hot”.

Cyclone Freddy - one of the deadliest storms to hit the African continent in the last two decades - killed over one thousand people, swept away entire villages, forcing thousands of people out of their homes, and decimated over one million acres of crop land. The estimated loss and damage for both Malawi and Mozambique was $0.5 and $1.5 billion respectively. Recurrent extreme weather events mean that governments are unable to cope with skyrocketing needs. They cannot rehabilitate billions of dollars-worth of damaged public infrastructure such as roads, schools, and hospitals due to lack resources.

Marongwe said: “It is times like these when climate financing is most needed, to build up practical and sustainable solutions for smallholder farmers and people impacted by repeated climate shocks such as floods and drought. But rich polluting countries are still slacking, leaving vulnerable communities to continue pay the price for a problem they have done very little to cause.

“Rich donors must immediately inject funds to meet the UN appeal for Malawi and Mozambique to help save lives now. Equally important, rich polluting nations must pay African countries for their climate loss and damage, so that they can help their communities rebuild their lives and get out of this consecutive cycle of destruction.”


Notes to Editor

  • Earlier this month, over 17 000 people in Malawi’s Nkhota-kota and Karonga districts were displaced and affected by flash floods that damaged people’s homes and crops worth millions of dollars.
  • Oxfam and partners in Mozambique and Malawi have been supporting 135,870 people with lifesaving cash, rehabilitation of water sources to enable people have access to clean water, and sanitation, implementing programmes that support women and young girls realise their rights amid climate crises as well working with other agencies and governments in strengthening national and community structures key in disaster risk reduction.
  • In Malawi up to 405 kilometres of road infrastructure were damaged, and 63 health facilities and close to a million water and sanitation facilities were affected. The worst hit of all sectors, according to Department of Disaster Management Affairs was agriculture, the mainstay of Malawi’s economy. Over 2 million farmers lost their crops and livestock, and over 179,000 hectares of crop fields was destroyed.
  • In Mozambique, Cyclone Freddy affected more than 390,0000 hectares of land, more than 132,000 houses were destroyed and approximately 67,000 have were flooded. Some 123 health facilities and six water supply system were affected or damaged along with 1, 017 schools.
  • The figures of the people already facing acute hunger are from IPC analysis for Malawi and Mozambique:
  • Loss and damage figures for Malawi are according to the Malawi 2023 Tropical Cyclone Freddy Post-Disaster Needs Assessment and Contingent Emergency Response Component (CERC) and Crisis Response Window (CRW) for Mozambique

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